San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Marina Rules Moored by Errors

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) has rejected a bill that would update regulations on marina and tourist docks.

While proponents insist the bill would increase environmental protections over current rules, which come from a 1998 marina law, the Sala IV ruled just the opposite.

The court found that the law was unconstitutional in both its content and its path through the Legislative Assembly, and it violated environmental principles.

Among other reforms, the bill allowed developers to receive a conditional concession from the municipality before it has finished with its environmental permitting process. The court ruled the reform unconstitutional, saying it effectively allowed developers a concession before their project is shown to be environmentally viable.

Currently, developers must have an environmental impact report approved by the Environment Ministry s Technical Secretariat (SETENA) before applying for their concessions, which are approved by local municipalities.

The court also found that legislators did not adequately consult local municipalities and a list of central government agencies before voting on the legislation. The bill now goes back to commission for corrections to the text.

Leland Baxter-Neal


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