Rejection of ruling to increase number of floors of buildings in Punta Cana

The Dominican Association of Hotels and Tourism (Asonahores) has asked the Ministry of the Environment to reject the construction of buildings over five floors on the beach in the eastern part of the country.

The written request was received at the Ministry of 14 December 2017, addressed to Environment Minister Francisco Domínguez Brito, from the president of Asonahores, Joel Santos Echavarría.

Asonahores stated that they opposed the order to allow taller buildings as it was against the area planning code that had established a maximum number of floors of five. The organization went on the say it would also affect the aesthetics of the area, which is a protected area, and would endanger the integrity of fragile ecosystems. In addition Asonahores requested the government convene public hearings as part of the permitting process.

Diario Libre published that the Ministry of Tourism issued a resolution, back in October 2017, to increase the floor limit to 22 floors from five on the El Macao coastline in Punta Cana. Previously, the Ministry had authorized high rises in the Cap Cana Juanillo beach area. Earlier, the Ministry had authorized a higher level then established in the land plan for a resort in the area.

Diario Libre reporters interviewed Environment Minister Francisco Dominguez Brito who said that the Ministry of Environment has not yet received paperwork for the environmental permission for construction of high rises in the Macao beach area in northern Punta Cana. Nevertheless, he said the role of the Ministry of Environment is to determine that the buildings do not pose a threat to the environment. He said it is responsibility of the Ministry of Tourism to set the construction parameters and not the Ministry of Environment.

The high-rise model failed in Juan Dolio after it was authorized years ago by former Minister of Tourism Felix Jimenez with high rise shells as evidence. Now under Minister Francisco Javier Garcia, high rises are also being authorized, this time for the Punta Cana beaches.

The National Hotel & Tourism Association (Asonahores) argues that the Dominican low rise and low density model has been successful and should not be changed. The new heights authorized for Macao and Cap Cana are also rejected by the Association of Hotels and Tourism Projects of the Eastern Zone (Asoleste). The Association issued a legal summons to the municipality of Higuey opposing the granting of land use permits in regards to projects with heights of more than five floors (17.50 meters), the height contemplated in the Plan Sectorial de Ordenamiento Territorial Turistico Punta Cana, Bavaro Macao issued by the Ministry of Tourism on 26 March 2012. The law allows four floors for Macao and five floors for the Cap Cana area.

Diario Libre reports that executives of the hotel associations had held several meetings with officers of the Ministry of Tourism to discourage the change in legal height for the area, but were surprised when the Ministry ruled in favor of the high-rises for Cap Cana and Macao. Diario Libre reports that behind the authorization could be that Hard Rock Hotel developers established this as a pre-condition for their investing in the abandoned Roco Ki resort site. The newspaper also speculates that behind the high-rise development in Cap Cana could be the Trump Organization and Venezuelan investors from the Mendoza family owner of Polar beer in Venezuela.

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Diario Libre
Diario Libre

2 January 2018