Eduardo Arias talks about McDonald’s and BANTERRA
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
“I authorized but also cancelled the permits for the construction and operation of McDonald’s when I discovered that they cheated,” said Eduardo Arias, former director of Urban Development in Lucy Nuñez’s administration. He commented that he did his job responsibly and loves San Miguel, and he added, “I do not want to be involved in politics again.”
Arias said that he arrived in San Miguel de Allende in 1996 and started working in the private sector and at the same time started donating his time to community projects. Arias was president of the Association of Architects in 2002 and by that time had donated his time developing the project for the construction of the bridge connecting San Miguel and La Cieneguita (on the new road to Guanajuato). “Lucy Nuñez was attracted by my background and invited me to work in her cabinet as director of Urban Development,” he explained.
Arias said that when he started working in the administration he did it in a responsible way because he studied and knew the regulations for the Urban Development Department. “When we took over the administration we found out that there were projects for housing developments in risky areas, and when the city councilors asked me to issue the authorizations I informed federal authorities about those developments. Some politicians did not like that, and that is when my fall started.”
About the second-story addition he authorized on calle San Francisco and later cancelled, Arias commented that the owners had the permits from the INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) with some criteria that he presented to the city councilors of the Commission of Urban Development, who agreed to the authorization. Later, construction was cancelled because the walls were not of a sturdy material such as brick or stones with a thickness of 45 centimeters, as was stated in the plans, but of drywall. “The authorization was also the responsibility of the city councilors and of the INAH, not just mine” he said.
The BANTERRA case
Arias said, “The city council was pressuring me to authorize the permits for the housing development Lomas de Atotonilco, but I could not do that because the BANTERRA file was incomplete. The authorization of permits from the department were in progress when the city council authorized the change of land use for BANTERRA. The city councilors complained because projects were not being authorized in a timely fashion, but I was not there to benefit their friends. Arias also commented that he presented to the city council a document outlining the damage that the population of 2,000 inhabitants living in the area near the proposed development could suffer if the population increased to 40,000. “
The McDonald’s case
“They asked the department to issue a permit for operation of a restaurant with a normal schedule and without the sale of alcohol. There is a program called SARE, managed by the state government and the municipality, and the director of Urban Development ought to be able to authorize the opening of companies of low impact in less than a week if they have the permits from the Traffic Department, Public Security and Civil Protection,” said Arias. Arcos Sercal Inmobiliaria got the requirements as well those from the INAH, so the license for operation and construction was authorized. “Later,” commented Arias, “we received a denouncement stating that McDonald’s was recruiting personnel for their new store in town and it was going to be located at Canal 16. For that reason, I signed the cancelation of the permits, because they misrepresented their intentions. I saw that and cancelled the permits so they could begin the process again in a legal way through the city council, which has enough authority to authorize the opening of franchises.
On December 12, 2012, the city council decided to remove Arias from his post. The city councilors at that time commented that the reasons for firing Arias were the authorization of the second-floor structure on calle San Francisco, complaints from residents and developers about the long lists of requirements for getting permits, lying to the city council, and, finally, the authorization of permits for the McDonald’s.