Stop Christopher Columbus Landing Resort and Designate a Natural Reserve
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Sign this petition to STOP CONSTRUCTION of the Christopher Columbus Landing Resort until PUBLIC HEARINGS ARE FULLY RENEWED through an ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER from THE GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO to P.R's PLANNING BOARD and CARIBBEAN MANAGEMENT GROUP, INC.
We oppose the construction of a coastal mega hotel-residential complex, which consists of 121-acres, 300 room hotel with a 17,000 square foot casino, convention center, 160 condo-hotel units, 240 apartment condominium, and 100 residential villas. The complex covers nearly 4,000 feet of the coastline of Playuela, a significant part of an already-working Ecological Corridor in Northwest Puerto Rico, Municipality of Aguadilla. Construction operations started last October 31st, 2016 on urban-free lands ("Suelos Rústicos") that should be maintained free from urbanization. This land category is established in the Land Use Plan of the Puerto Rico Planning Board (pags 140-151, 2015). This is also true for the Municipality Territorial Ordinance. Developers vaguely justify urbanization here under the Law of Tourism Development, arguing that the project will have little ecological impact and brings economy. In fact, because of this law, developers applied for tax forgiveness and they won't even pay Municipal taxes for this construction project. Environmental groups argue this economic model is highly unsustainable, only benefiting specific-private construction and real estate business owners, promoting social inequity, and environmental degradation/conflicts.
These lands hold great biodiversity of fauna and flora. Species interact with the urban-free environment to form a Sustainable Paradise with up to five distinct ecosystems. This provides a sense of place to the people. Several protected species of corals, manatees, hawksbill turtles, boas (potentially), birds, and native palm trees depend on Land & Sea Ecological Integrity and would benefit from conservation and restoration efforts. Also, this area hosts four of the most recognized surf breaks, not just by Puerto Rico, but also by the international surfing community. These are: “El Mix”, “Wishing Wells”, “Pressure Point”, and “Wilderness”. South of this site are other world class breaks like “Gas Chambers” and “Crash Boats”, and North "Surfers Beach", "Table Tops", "PR's Backdoor", and "Survivals". To complete the Christopher Columbus Landing Resort it is required the construction of an extended sewage pipeline system damaging underground aquifers. Increasing the capacity of a nearby-river sewage treatment plant is also required. Curious enough, the project was sold to investors as a Beach Front Hotel Complex. Now we know, this propaganda was an OAX! The project engineer admitted a sandy beach will not be constructed. Nevertheless, significant threats of habitat loss and scenery degradation remains.
Natural-intrinsic coastal values are essential sustainable-assets for the local economy, attracting tourists to Aguadilla, Rincón, Isabela and other Northwest Municipalities of PR. Many existing hotels, hostels, and guest houses in the area benefit from these resources. However, it is an undeniable truth that the natural space is poorly managed, being affected by illegal trash deposits, sewage disposal, and eroding trails.
To consolidate our cause we are developing counter-proposals to designate these lands as a series of Surfing/Natural Reserves and develop a Management Plan for the Ecological Corridor. These are strategic investments that can be done to develop sustainable economies like Eco-Tourism and ensure the coherent implementation of the Land Use Plan to be in concordance with the sustainability needs of Puerto Rico's socio-economic and socio-ecological systems.
ACT NOW!!! DEMAND RENEWAL OF PUBLIC HEARINGS, an appropriate forum and level of discussion where the destiny of Playuela's Beauty and Value can be changed for GOOD!
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