San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

High Court Orders Hotel Demolition

AN 11-year legal battle may be nearingan end since the Supreme Court’sCivil and Administrative Law Branch(Sala I) confirmed an order to demolishthe controversial Las Palmas Hotel insoutheast Limón province, La Naciónreported.The court’s decision – which wasmade in April but not known until thisweek – is the latest in a battle over thehotel, which originally was ordereddemolished March 5, 1993.Built in the Gandoca-ManzanilloWildlife Refuge on Punta Uva, the hotelwas originally accused by the Ministry ofNatural Resources (replaced by theMinistry of Environment and Energy –MINAE) of environmental damage andviolation of permits (TT, March 12,1993).Although given permission to build inthe refuge, the Ministry of NaturalResources said hotel owner Jan Kalinabuilt an illegal canal across the beach todrain the property, dug an illegal artificiallake, improperly disposed of sewage,extended construction beyond limits andmoved sand and planted exotic specieswithin the protected 50-meter maritimezone.The ministry ordered Kalina – aCzechoslovakian businessman – to returnthe property to its original state beforeconstruction began in 1989.Since then, the ministry’s order hasbeen postponed by a series of court battles.The Supreme Court’s recent decisionupholds the 1993 order to revoke the permitsand demolish the hotel, governmentattorney Vivian Ávila told La Nación.The Environment Ministry is nowcharged with determining how the demolitionof the 74-room, $6 million hotelwill occur, La Nación reported.

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