The Tel Aviv District Court, sitting as the Administrative Affairs Court, has dismissed petitions brought by the Ramat Hasharon Municipality and local residents against a plan to build 285 housing units in the west of the city. The location in question is 77 dunams (16.25 acres) of land, on part of which stands the Shatil plant nursery, on Jabotinsky Street. The neighborhood is one of the most prestigious in the city, and in central Israel altogether.
The many owners of the land have been promoting a plan to develop it for eleven years, backed by the District Planning and Building Commission, against the objections of the municipality and of the residents of the adjacent neighborhood of detached houses.
After rejecting various versions of the development plan, in 2014, the District Planning and Building Commission decided to approve for deposit a plan to build 335 units, some consisting of houses with gardens and some in high-density buildings of up to 11 floors.
After objections were heard, the plan was cut to 285 units, and it was decided that it would be restricted to houses with gardens on the eastern edge, while the planned height of buildings along Jabotinsky Street would be reduced. The density in the final plan is nine units per dunam (2.25 units per acre). The objections by the municipality and residents to this plan eventually reached the Administrative Affairs Court. Among the objections was that the plan did not suit the fabric and character of the surrounding area, and that density targets should be achieved through construction in other parts of the city where such construction was already planned.
The stance of the District Planning and Building Commission, as presented in a hearing of an appeal by the Local Planning and Building Commission in 2017, was that the Local Commission's view was not consistent with the national outlook on construction density as expressed in National Outline Plan 35 and Regional Outline Plan 5, which zoned the area of the plan as an urban area with an emphasis on housing.
In a long and closely argued ruling, Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen dismissed the petitions. She said that the neighborhood was part of the growing Tel Aviv metropolitan area, one of the country's most important centers of employment, with rising demand for accessible housing, and that therefore it was right to give priority to the value of high-density living. She said that leaving the existing situation as it was would amount to exclusionary zoning.
"The danger arises that residents of wealthy neighborhoods will use their strength to prevent the high-density policy from being realized in their areas," Agmon-Gonen said. "By preventing certain construction plans or urban renewal plans, they will preserve low-rise houses, single-family houses, and thus keep out a more varied population that can only afford small apartments in multi-residency buildings. It must be ensured that a situation will not arise in which strong groups with access to centers of influence will use exclusionary zoning, and will remain in green and less crowded neighborhoods, while higher density construction will take place mainly, or only, in poorer neighborhoods."
Judge Agmon-Gonen ordered the petitioners to pay to the developers legal costs of NIS 50,000.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 6, 2020
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