Monday, August 28, 2006
Invasive Weed Displaces 1000 Families
The mysterious disappearance of dozens of Israeli kablanim (building contractors) and thousands of homes for young couples has been attributed to the emergence of secret cells of EcoKGB agents that have been surfacing lately in this country. A kablan said that "I am losing money", a standard statement voiced by kablanim of all times, but uncharacteristically he added that "We are feeling attacked by hidden unknown forces. These forces hate us."
The Tel Aviv District Court cancelled a building plan for 1,000 residential units in the area of the kurkar (sandstone) ridges in Ness Ziona. The Coastal Iris, as well as a wide variety of other flora, grows on the sandstone ridges.
The 1982 regional plan designated the sandstone ridges as a national park. Despite this, in the early 1990's, the Ness Ziona Municipality rezoned the area for residential construction. In 1994, the new mayor, Yossi Shvo, canceled his predecessor's decision. In response, landowners took their matter to the courts.
Parallel to the legal proceedings, residents of Ness Ziona created the Kurkar Ridges Forum. Every year the forum would stage events intended to promote awareness and to create public opinion in favor of the area's preservation. Events included kite-flying festivals, marches and so forth. Eventually, the court decided to cancel the plan.
The court decreed that the general good precedes individual benefits, and especially those of the developers. Although the owners can now claim compensation under clause 197 of the Planning and Building Law, the city will claim that the land is rocky (that is, uncultivated and unproductive) so there is no basis for compensation.
In other words, the area is useless unproductive sandstone for compensation purposes, but invaluable as one the many places this stinking and uneatable (even by famelic Beduin goats) weed prospers. The Iris is far from being an endangered species, it is a common weed in Mediterranean coastal areas.
On the other hand, the creation of a Nature Protection park in Ness Ziona will increase the value of the current residents's real estate. The 1000 young families will have to pay much more for their homes than the already astronomic prices in Israel's central (as yet out of reach of Hamas' and Hizballa's rockets) region.