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Developers In Over Their Heads?

Re-Survey of Major Suite Development in North Kuta Reportedly Reveals Irregularities and Violations of Local Zoning Rules.

(5/29/2007) A controversial suite development planned by PT Bali Unicorn (BUC), located on the seaside near Canggu at a local estuary, has caused vehement protests by local citizens who claim the developer violated property lines, zoning rules and desecrated a sacred area reserved for prayer and ceremonies. Large protests by thousands of local Balinese from surrounding villages eventually caused the Government to call a halt to ground work for the project and issue an order demanding the developer rebuild and restore the damaged shoreline and bottom lands of the delta.

The project, owned by the same parties who have developed the Discovery Mall Complex in South Kuta, saw contractors using heavy earth-moving equipment to reclaim land by filling in natural lagoons for the construction of suites and supporting structures. Fearing floods and the disturbance of areas held sacred by the Balinese, thousands descended on the project in April threatening sterner action if the project was not immediately halted.

Swayed by public protests, local government administrators eventually ordered the project to cease construction and instructed the developers to restore the lagoon to its original state.

Protestors were angered that local authorities had granted building and development permits in contravention of local building codes and in a religiously sensitive area. Local citizens are now demanding accountability from the officials who issued the original permits.

Local law requires all project developers to obtain formal approval from local village authorities before proceeding with building. Rules, according to local villagers, that were were ignored by PT BUC.

As part of the efforts to ease tensions, officials called a halt to all construction and ordered a new land survey be undertaken to determine the true extend on the land titles owned by PT BUC.

The Indonesian-language Bali Post reports that local officials tried to have the results of the re-survey discussed in close session, a move countered by local a parliamentarian who leaked the survey findings to the local press. The legislator and community activist, Wayan Sutena, said his move was necessary to ensure transparency was preserved in the review process.

In Over Their Heads?

Referring to the site plans resulting from the re-survey, Sutena was amazed to discover that almost half of the projects land was under water. Incredulous, Sutena was quoted by the Bali Post as asking if the plans of PT BUC were for a swimming complex or if the intention was to building a floating hotel.

Bali zoning laws require all development be set back a stipulated distance from the high-tide mark and river banks.

According to the Bali Post, the PT BUC project is comprised of two parcels of land. Parcel HGB 488 comprised of 8.120 square meters, which after survey was found to be 48% (4,400 square meters) below the water line. The remaining parcel, HGB 501 comprised of 37,000 square meters of land was discovered on re-survey to be 45% below the water line (16,470 square meters).

The legislator, who is also a lawyer, scolded the local government for illegally including public access waterways, bottomland and public shore areas in a private property title.

The re-survey of the project land, if verified, would render much of the 45,120 square meter site closed to any development by PT BUC.

A Complicated Road Ahead

If the latest re-survey results stand, the future of the PT BUC project will be put in jeopardy. Local residents from North Kuta are adamant in their desire to stop the estuary project while the only way to rescind the project permits already granted by the Government is via a lengthy legal process.