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(506) 2223-1327                                    Published Friday, May 22, 2015, in Vol. 15, No. 100                                     Email us
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Proposed zoning reg make some land unbuildable
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A proposed regulation by a government agency unknown to most expats seeks to impose what appears to be a national zoning plan.

The agency, the  Instituto Nacional de Vivienda y Urbanismo, said it based its regulation on a 1968 law.

The regulation orders municipalities to create a zoning map using the agency's terminology. If the local government lacks the funds, the agency will do the map. The regulation makes a difference among urban, urbanizable, unurbanizable and rural lands. The 51-page document is available on the agency's Web site.

The measure already is generating controversy. Channel 6 Repretel news aired a summary of the bill that generated phone calls from expats Thursday night.

A principal concern is that developers or owners cannot construct projects on land that the  Instituto Nacional de Vivienda y Urbanismo and the municipality considers unsuitable for that purpose.

In addition, developers have to surrender 10 percent of the developed land for public purposes. And this 10 percent must be open to everyone, not just residents of the project. In addition, the regulation says all roads must be fully accessible.

That would eliminate the gated community.

Developers probably would not want strangers hanging around children's playgrounds even if the space were designated as public.

The regulation does not seem to affect existing construction.

Much of the measure is not unlike similar zoning and subdivision rules in the United State where developers have to build and turn over roadways and parks to the local government.

The agency proposal also said that municipalities that do not have a plan regulador or zoning law enacted cannot make changes to land use.

Farmers and other non-urban land owners would be prohibited from subdividing their land and would be required to keep it as agricultural, forest or vacant.

Construction inspections still would be done by the municipality.

The  Instituto Nacional de Vivienda y Urbanismo is better known as the agency that will sell housing bonds to individuals seeking to purchase or build a home. It also constructs large complexes for the poor.

"The land, as a scare resource, ought to be taken advantage of in an efficient and effective way," says the proposed article 5.

The regulation also calls for developers to have dwellings for a socially diverse clientele and to  install bike paths and turnouts for buses.

The Cámera Costarricense de Construcción is believed to oppose certain elements of the regulation. Others are expected to suggest that the regulation might better be a law passed by elected representatives. The public will be able to comment on the proposal.

The agency made no public announcement of the regulations to news people. The proposal appears to have been posted on the agency Web site May 5.

11 raids net suspects in wave of  25 home invasions
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents detained three men and a woman Thursday and linked them to 25 home invasions.

The armed home invasions were reported to have taken place in  San José, Cartago, Heredia, Alajuela and Grecia.

Four other persons who are linked to the same crimes are already under arrest, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Home invasions, when bandits burst into an occupied home, are a continuing concern of expats, although Costa Ricans victims are more numerous.

Judicial agents engineered 11 raids Thursday in Purral de Goicoechea, Coronado, Moravia and Cartago, said the Poder Judicial.

Those arrested were identified by the last names of  Goñi, a 36-year-old woman,  Serrano, Brenes and Pizarro, the men whose ages ranged from 21 to 30.

The four persons detained earlier were captured after a home invasion took place May 14 in  Turrúcares de Alajuela, agents said.

Residents there were tied up.

The gang that has been the focus of the judicial investigation spent time planning their invasions. They kept watch on various

Judicial Investigating Organization photo
One of the detained men is escorted to transportation

homes to determine the best time to commit the crimes, agents said.

Sometimes they would spend as much as 11 hours inside the home, threatening the occupants to surrender the credit cards and ATM codes.

Some members of the gang would leave to access the bank accounts of the victims at automatic tellers, agents said.

Investigators said they recovered items that had been stolen in their searches Thursday.

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