Capilla de Piedra: “Case Closed”
By Jesús Aguado
“If I stand up here, I do not want buildings blocking my view to the Parroquia.”
The work tables between the Observatorio Ciudadano and the local administration to mitigate the visual impacts of Capilla de Piedra are not close to being completed. However, the agreement between the organization and the administration was that neither of the parties will give further information to the citizens or the press.
Since the emerging of the Capilla de Piedra case, those involved appeared and most of them granted interviews to Atención—except the owners of the company. The last person who asked for a right to reply was former mayor Jesús Correa (2006—2009). He made it clear that any permits granted to the developers after March—Oct 2009 do not link him to the case because at that time he was no longer mayor. “I left the administration because I was running for local legislator. I was campaigning,” he commented, stating in addition that the interim mayor was Rodolfo Jurado. “In May the first two multiple family buildings were authorized. I do not know which ones, but any building impacting the visuals of San Miguel should not be approved.”
Correa is remembered because during his administration he decided to say no to the Sanmiguelada and that was, he said, a proposal from the National Institute of History in order to get the appointment of San Miguel de Allende and Atotonilco as World Heritage Sites. “When we were working through the process, we were thinking that the appointment would be a tribute to the people who watched over San Miguel for the last hundred years. People do not have the right to destroy San Miguel in three years through the government.”
Correa assured that when he was mayor, his city council approved the construction of Rosewood, for which the developers also wanted higher buildings. In the end, the architectural image of San Miguel was respected. “I remember that during a meeting with the investors, I was at El Cardo parking lot and I told them, ‘If I stand up here, I do not want any building blocking my view.’ And they did change the project. It cost a lot of money, but now Rosewood is almost an icon of San Miguel,” said Correa. “I would never give permits for higher buildings.”
Finally, he expressed that his concern is for San Miguel but also for those who are going to buy the apartments in Capilla de Piedra because two wells in Jardines are dried up (Atención requested the information from SAPASMA, but they never gave an answer) “And nobody is obligated to the impossible. If there is no water in ten years, the government is not obligated to give them water. Who is going to solve the problem?” Correa also said that now those people involved in the hotel business are not saying anything, but he believes that in the future fewer hotel rooms will be occupied because more people will come to town but will use their friends’ apartments in Capilla or in other places where houses are being constructed.
The Work Tables
Four work tables were combined by the local government and the Observatorio Ciudadano. After several internal conflicts in the Observatorio, the president and secretary (Gabor Goded and Arturo Morales Tirado, respectively) decided to resign. Morales told Atención that the reason was due to health and “personal” problems. It was said that the conclusions of the work tables would be given to the press on Thursday, May 19, but it did not happen. That day, Morales Tirado—as a citizen—handed over a document to the office of the secretary of the city council with the alleged “proposals of mitigation, remediation and compensation” of the construction that, as the document stated, were the result of the work tables. In the document he noted that several legal issues needed to be solved first.
The proposals from the architectural table were the elimination of 88 apartments, as well as the suppression of terraces, the modification of the horizontal windows where quarrels need to be added, and the placing of green walls and plants in the buildings.
At the legal table, according to the document presented by Morales Tirado, one of the considerations is to look for conciliation with the owners before any legal situation arises although the trial for eliminating the 88 apartments should always be on the list, based on the social pressure and the collective support.
In the ecological part the proposal is to camouflage the facades with green walls as well as with native and endemic plants. The Civil Organization should be considered in design of the ecologic corridor of the Atascadero dam. Finally, in the traffic table, the periodic maintenance of the street connecting El Llano and Santo Domingo must be defined.
On Thursday, May 19, the secretary of the city council, Gonzalo González, made it clear that the case will be “closed,” that is to say, that they will not give more information to the press or the citizens until conclusions are made. City councilor Gerardo Arteaga read a short document stating that the Observatorio Ciudadano and the local government will try to negotiate with the developers before any legal action; including the support and expertise of the organized professionals. A proposal of mitigation will be prepared with the organized professionals and should be validated by the INAH. Another meeting will be held between the Observatorio and local authorities. It will take place Friday, May 27, at 10am, to revise the legal Capilla documents.
Everything started when…
In 1995 the developers started the process of changing the land use from forestal to habitational for a housing development then called Cañada de las Moras, a neighborhood that later changed to Vista Montaña and finally to Capilla de Piedra.
Mayor Ricardo Villarreal commented in a press conference that the project was horizontal initially, and it was authorized on September 12, 2006, by interim mayor Juan Antonio Jaramillo, who stayed in the post when then mayor Luis Alberto Villarreal started his campaign to run for senator of Guanajuato.
A document submitted to Atención states that on May 14, 2009, the land use for the condominiums of Vista Montaña was ratified with ten votes of the city council during the 68th ordinary session. The president was Jesús Correa. Ricardo Villarreal said that eight blocks were approved on May 29, 2009, including two multi-family buildings. On June 10, 2010, during Luz María Núñez’s administration, the previous plans were modified, and then the construction of 38 apartments plus 28 vertical buildings, for a total of 220 dwellings, was approved.
Mayor Villarreal assured during his press conference that in 2010, INAH “authorized the plan for the construction of 38 buildings (the construction that we can see from the historic center). Villarreal said in addition, showing a plan, “Here is the stamp, and here is the document stating that INAH does not find inconvenience with the modification of the trace of 2010. With the document that they presented to us in December 2015, they were asking us to clarify points of the construction, but here is their signature.” In 2012 the Water Department granted all the permits because the infrastructure regarding water and sewage was done. Finally, on October 9, 2015, the city council under Mauricio Trejo approved the construction of 88 more apartments. That is why Capilla de Piedra could have 336 apartments.