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Inspectors will start to Work at Night to Stop Nocturnal Illegal Constructions

Edificio gris en Mesones

Muros derruidos en Insurgentes


Ángel Gastelum, Department of Planing and Cultural Heritage

By Jesús Aguado

Dozens of constructions are in progress in the Historic Center of San Miguel de Allende. Some are legal, others are not.

The Instituto Nacional de Antropolgía e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History), known as INAH, has offices based in Guanajuato. It is the authority responsible for preserving the Monuments Zone in the city, work that it shares with the local government through the Department of Heritage and Sustainable Planning (headed by Ángel Gastelum Cadena).

However, it seems like these two departments are not working together, or else those responsible for the construction projects are breaking the law.

At Barranca, for example, a construction project was halted for not having a construction permit from the Heritage Department, as well as for its height. However, it did have a permit from the INAH. Crews had demolished a wall before the discrepancy was discovered. A similar illegal demolition was recorded on calle Hidalgo, but in that case the wall was rebuilt.

On calle Mesones—between Relox and Hidalgo—construction is happening that, according to Gastelum, will be a hotel. Residents neighboring to the site have objected to the project, saying that the building height is blocking their view and is now allegedly taller than 8.5 meters.

On calle Insurgentes, an old wooden door was substituted for a newer one, and inside the building—which according to some employees will be a parking lot—several rooms were demolished. Gastelum told Atención that the INAH issued a permit for minor demolitions supported by his department. About the use of the space in the future, he promised that the space is zoned residential, and said he is not concerned right now about the site’s use, since the San Miguel de Allende City Council has not issued a new use permit yet.

“We are working, surveilling the city and halting illegal constructions,” Gastelum  said, “closing illegal stores.” He promised that inspectors from his department would soon start working at night, since that is when people try most often to break the law with illegal construction.

Maximum construction height: 8.5 meters

In 2016, the city council approved a reform to the Regulation of the Territorial Code of San Miguel de Allende to avoid future constructions higher than 8.5 meters from then on.

Secretary of the City Council at that time Gonzalo González (now the interim mayor) said that the modification of the regulation was fundamental. “It was a fundamental topic and had to be solved immediately,” he said.

González remarked that in practice the maximum height people were building to in San Miguel was 8.5 meters but that it was not written in any legal document.

The agreement approved by the city council now states legally that 8.5 meters is the legal maximum height for future buildings in the city. The document also states that future construction ought not to block the view from streets or public overlooks. “In any case, the construction of architectural, structural, ornamental, or other facilities requested as provisional or permanent won’t be authorized above the maximum height,” he said. “If something is authorized, there must be an impact study of the visuals from the streets.

The agreement also states that if there is a permit granted for a construction with a greater height, that permission will not set a precedent in the area for the authorization of any other construction in the area that is higher than the legal limit.

If the new buildings have basements, just one story could be visible.



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