Riu Cancun Hotel gets permit despite long-running environmental controversy

Riu Cancun Hotel. (PHOTO: proceso.com.mx)

CANCÚN — After three years of environmental litigation regarding two protected natural areas (ANP), the Riu Riviera Cancún Hotel owned by Spanish investors has obtained permits to continue construction, said the municipal president of Benito Juárez, Remberto Estrada Barba.

“This hotel, the land has (federal authorization) demonstration of environmental impact and has all the legal aspects to issue a (municipal) building license,” said the mayor, according to Mexico’s Proceso news website.

The mayor of Cancun said that investors can continue construction of this hotel, because there are no impediments due to lack of permits and that “at this moment everything indicates that it has all the legal aspects.”

And he stressed:

“What I can guarantee are all the legal elements to issue a building license.”

Riu Cancun Hotel. (PHOTO: proceso.com.mx)


In 2014, the construction of the Riu Riviera Cancun hotel was announced, which would have 563 rooms, in an area of ​​wetlands, adjacent to two ANPs in Punta Nizuc, to the south of the hotel zone of this tourist destination.

The former city council dominated by the PRI and PVEM and chaired by the PRI Paul Carrillo opened the door to the Riu Riviera Cancún project when, on August 25, 2014, it modified the Urban Development Plan (PDU) of Cancún, which had just been updated in the previous administration, result of an alliance between the PRD and PAN.

One of the projects favored by the new mayor Paul Carrillo was precisely the Riu Riviera Cancún.

The Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda), which initiated administrative proceedings against the authorization of Riu Riviera Cancun, said that the PDU of Paul Carrillo allowed a greater number of rooms in the property where the new hotel tower is expected.

The previous PDU allowed up to 75 rooms per hectare and three levels of height and the one approved by initiative of Paul Carrillo establishes a net density of 270 rooms per hectare and maximum 565, with height of 20 levels or 70 meters.

“Paul Carrillo opened the PDU to allow the Riu Nizuc project,” said Alejandra Serrano, representative of Cemda in the Yucatan Peninsula.

This new PDU also ignored a recommendation from the Secretariat of Tourism (Sectur) that the Punta Nizuc area is a low impact because of its vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

The study points out that the Punta Nizuc area is “highly vulnerable to climate change,” said the Cemda representative.

The Cemda has initiated procedures to prevent the construction of this project that the Spanish group Riu insists on carrying out.

The project had already been rejected by Semarnat, which denied authorization for environmental impact and change of land use in forest lands requested by the Riu Group to build its project in the Punta Nizuc area.

The refusal was issued on March 20, 2015 against the specifications of the project of a tower of 15 levels with 565 rooms in a building of 20 thousand 929.45 square meters.

The project was rejected, said Serrano, because the site is located in the area of ​​influence of two ANPs: Protected Area of ​​Mangrove Flora and Fauna of Nichupté and the National Marine Park Costa Occidental of Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancún and Punta Nizuc.

However, the project was modified and resubmitted to Semarnat, with a “lower density” but the new evaluation “is in the final phase,” said the lawyer.

Cemda also lodged an amparo against the PDU for violations of the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection, the Quintana Roo State Human Settlements Law, the Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection Law, as well as the Law General of Climate Change.

However, after the approval of the new PDU, the administration of Paul Carrillo through the Municipal Secretariat of Ecology and Urban Development issued the construction license.

For its part, the Constitutional and Administrative Chamber (SCA) of the Judicial Branch of Quintana Roo declared in November 2015 the suspension of the construction license due to inconsistencies in the procedures.

But in May of this year, the SCA issued a second resolution that affects the Riu Cancún project, declaring the PDU, approved in the administration of Paul Carrillo.

Source: proceso.com.mx



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