"The proposal to allow Sde Dov Airport to continue in operation and to vacate its eastern part for residential construction has consequences that exceed planning considerations, and involve housing policy and aviation policy, and it has considerable budgetary consequences, and will mean a breach or emendation of agreements concerning property rights between the state and private landowners," says a report by the Planning Administration in the Ministry of Finance on the alternative plan for partially vacating Sde Dov Airport in Tel Aviv and continuing to operate it as an airport, as proposed by Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai. The Planning Administration was asked by Ministry of Finance and the Housing Commission to examine the proposal and prepare an opinion.
The initial draft of the opinion was sent to various addresses today, and also reached "Globes". In it, the Planning Administration says that while the proposal could be implemented from a planning point of view, it could have consequences in a number of areas, among them financial consequences and a difference in the number of homes that it will be possible to build on the site. The opinion stresses that the decision will have to be made at the level of government policy because of the broad consequences of the alternative plan.
"From an initial examination it appears that the proposal to enable civil aviation to continue at Sde Dov is feasible from a planning point of view," the draft opinion states, "but by the criteria of urban planning the proposal is inferior to the original plan because it does not include intensive urban construction, does not allow the shoreline to be opened to the public or a substantial, wide coastal park, and reduces the number of housing units on the site."
The Planning Administration estimates that the number of housing units that could be built would be reduced from 16,000 to 3,000-4,000 units on private and only. "Construction limits around the airport would continue to impose height restrictions, including in plan 3700 on the northern side," the document states.
As far as the financial consequences of the proposal are concerned, the opinion states, "The Shoham Agreement for vacating IDF bases, costing NIS 28 billion, is based on revenue from the land of this amount, from sales of land in the vacated bases. The source of nearly one quarter of the revenue, NIS 6 billion, is the state's portion of Sde Dov Airport. Implementing the proposal would mean a NIS 6 billion shortfall in the budget for vacating IDF bases. To that must be added the cost of vacating the military airbase at Sde Dov (which is necessary to implementation of the proposal) amounting to NIS 2 billion."
The Planning Administration also comments on the agreements already signed with the landowners and the trustees representing them and warns that adopting the alternative proposal will make it necessary to breach or change a set of agreements between the state and private individuals, which is highly likely to lead to additional costs and complicated legal procedures.
Alongside the negative consequences, the Planning Administration also mentions at least one positive outcome, concerning the aviation capacity of Ben Gurion Airport. "Continued operation of Sde Dov will enable Ben Gurion Airport to expand its capacity for international flights, without being burdened with runway time at peak hours for domestic flights."
The Planning Administration summarizes its opinion on the alternative proposal as follows: "After approval is obtained from all the government entities entrusted with housing policy and aviation policy, the state budget, the agreement for vacating IDF bases and the agreements with the private landowners, it will be possible to continue to process at the planning level the proposal to continue operating Sde Dov Airport while vacating its eastern part. It is recommended that there should be a set period of time for carrying out checks and arriving at a decision in the government, in order to allow the original or the alternative plan to proceed rapidly and in a focused way." Thus while the Planning Administration confirms that the alternative is possible, the ball now passes to Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and the government, who will need to make a decision in principle, with all its consequences, on whether or not to change the existing plan.
In response to the report, the Planning Administration said, "This is an initial draft only, forwarded to the relevant entities for comment."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 18, 2016
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