A turbulent debate took place on Monday in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Council about the controversial plan for Kikar Atarim, including a confrontation between Mayor Ron Huldai and the Meretz faction, Huldai's municipal coalition partner. The debate followed a resolution proposed by city council member Zipi Brand-Frank, among other things because the plan had been exempted from the height limitation on construction on the coastal strip (40 storeys instead of 25), without permission from the Protection of the Coastal Environment Committee. The resolution was thrown out before it was even voted on.
Brand-Frank, a member of the Simu Lev Horim faction on the city council, proposed suspending continuation of the plan for six months, pending clarification of a number of questions, which she said had not been examined yet, and which were unknown at the time of the vote on approving the plan two years ago. Another question mentioned by Brand-Frank was an examination of the plan by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which previously demanded a heritage impact survey before discussion of the plan. Brand-Frank also questioned the appraisal according to which the sale of the municipal parking lot in Kikar Atarim to a developer was approved.
In her proposal, Brand-Frank argued that in effect, the Local Planning and Building Commission was actively promoting the Kikar Atarim towers plan initiated by the JTLV group, headed by Amir Biran. The plan includes the construction of three high-rises and another tower to be constructed by the Carlton Hotel chain in place of the current hotel, which will be demolished. A group of residents living near Kikar Atarim opposing the plan has founded the "No to Towers in Kikar Atarim" Facebook group. The opponents attended the city council debate on Brand-Frank's proposal, which was also supported by the Meretz faction, led by Deputy Mayor Meital Lehavi. Brand-Frank's proposal to suspend the plan because of unexamined issues resulted, among other things, from an investigative report on the Xnet website.
Huldai: Objections are fake news
In the debate, Huldai termed Brand-Frank's proposal "fake news," and answered the calls of the opponents outside the city council meeting room. "I heard much louder shouts when we had to evacuate the Ussishkin hall, and much louder shouts when we had to evacuate the promenade in order to make a new promenade. They said we were going to destroy the sea, and 99% of Tel Aviv-Jaffa residents are now satisfied."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on December 27, 2017
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