Jose Ignacio, the place "sophisticated and rugged" in which the neighbors are "the eyes of the Mayor"

“José Ignacio is tiny”. The notice is from Luc VanMalder, president of the José Ignacio Development Leaguea quiet resort where they live 150 people during the yearbut which has many millionaire owners from various parts of the world.

For two years, Van Malder has commanded an organization made up of 315 neighbors that stood up to the appearance of houses of Argentine businessmen such as Andrés Rossi and the Sánchez Elía brothers (grandchildren of chef “Gato” Dumas)to enforce the construction restrictions that the spa has, in order to maintain it as a place “resident and quiet”.

Although from the League they say that they don’t want to be the “police” of the resort houses, lawsuits against housing are repeated and in many cases with favorable results. These complaints are included within a community that, according to what he says, bets that José Ignacio will remain a place environmental friendlyas one of the last examples of the phrase “Uruguay Natural”.

The place

On Friday, August 12, Van Malder waits in the League building, an office with yellow walls connected to the office that the Municipality of Garzón and José Ignacio have in the central square of the resort.

Van Malder is Belgian, although he has a fairly fluent Spanish, with some errors that escape him. He grew up in Knokke-Heist, a coastal city that is the last before the border with the Netherlands. He married a woman of Uruguayan parents. When he first visited José Ignacio in 2007, on the recommendation of an Argentine couple friend, it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with the place, buy a house, and then moving permanently to the area in 2010 from Buenos Aires.

The tour begins on the main street of the spa. Unlike Punta del Este there is not a single building, because the law establishes that buildings higher than six meters cannot be built in the spa, and even the shops are installed in houses that appear to be residential. The house is on that street Brave Moon.

That construction was the League’s first complaint about an irregular building to justice. In 2017, the owner of that facility he wanted to build a third floor in his house to make a restaurant. At first the authorities did not act, the owner ignored the neighbors’ protests, and built the gastronomic premises, which operated until 2020. However, in January 2021 the third floor it was demolished.

It was in 2017 that, in a meeting with authorities from the Intendancy, some hierarchs told the League: “You are our eyes” and so they took it.

Before entering the beach, the Belgian shows some warnings about the care of the beaches and some wooden garbage cans, to show that the League “does much more than complaints”. They fought, they say, for improve lighting and security of the placeand managed to bring to the area a fire detachment, for which they carried out the construction. Still, Van Malder admits that the allegations they gave “greater visibility” to the organization.

the concrete house

From José Ignacio beach you can see the houses of the Sanchez Elia and de Rossi. The first is that of the grandchildren of Dumas, it is already built and even has already been visited by the brothers.

At first the League received a construction plan that was at the level of an adjoining house, but then when they saw the construction the problems began. “It is evident that it is more than six meters, you do not have to be an architect”, ironized Van Malder. The Municipality of Maldonado agreed with the neighbors, and ordered the demolition of the excess height of the house.

“It was an absolutely involuntary error originating in the calculation of the elevation. It was the product of the rigid mobility restrictions for the professional control of construction in the midst of a pandemic”the owner Zelmira Sánchez Elía said in May in dialogue with The Observer.

Jose Ignacio, the place "sophisticated and rugged" in which the neighbors are "the eyes of the Mayor"

House of the Sánchez Elía family in José Ignacio

Next to the Sánchez Elía house is Rossi’s. It is much larger, and everywhere you can see that its main material is concrete. That is the main problem: the house, due to its structure and its materials, it is heavier than what is allowed in that area of ​​the spaone of the three apples inside the coastal protection strip.

While looking at the house from below, Van Malder recounts that in early 2020, before the pandemic, neighbors brought several renders of different houses to the IDM Building Director for analysis. “The first one he opened was the one for this house, and he said ‘this is not approved’. At a glance, he saw that the piles did not have the necessary separation and that it was not light.”

construction It was suspendedin May of that year the Intendancy communicated to the neighbors that “they could not continue” with the inspections of the houses due to “lack of officials”at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. “But at the same time they approved the work, and he says that they approve it even though it is not light”Van Malder expresses surprise.

“The ordinance does not clarify what it refers to when it speaks of light. In architecture, I can say that an architecture is light because its image is light, for example, regardless of whether its construction system is light“, said to The Observer Soledad Laguarda, director of Urbanism of the IDM, consulted on the fitting out of Rossi’s house.

“When it is not clear (a case), the administration must always act in favor of the administered”added the hierarch, who believes that this discussion is about “a technical debate on the word light”.

Look at the dunes in front of the house, and regret that were damaged by construction. The containment meshes that are used to generate dunes they could not withstand the flow of sand or a recent stormand the sand moved to the side of the house, which increased the height of a step to the beach significantly.

A demand of an entire town

Jose Ignacio, the place "sophisticated and rugged" in which the neighbors are "the eyes of the Mayor"

Jose Ignacio

adriana abelesan Argentine psychoanalyst resident of the spa and former president of the League between 2017 and 2019, indicated that The organization has been denouncing this type of case for order to keep the town as a mixture of something “sophisticated” and “wild”. “It’s one of the few things that really remains of Uruguay Natural. We want Uruguay Natural to not be just a phrase”, explains at home, with a privileged view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Abeles was present when they presented the complaint to Rossi’s house to the IDM. “We went three times to the Intendancy: light, light, light, then they did what they wanted”, criticism.

His annoyance is not individual, nor is it only in the League: the complaint to the justice of Rossi’s house was accompanied by a letter from 300 neighbors of José Ignaciomany of them non-residents in the area.

“Citizens must resort to Justice to stop arbitrary and illegitimate acts of the Administration, even more so when they seriously attack the environment, as is very ostensibly the case in relation to the constructions that are being built on the Brava de José Ignacio beach.before the astonished and helpless gaze of all, neighbors and visitors”, indicates the letter to which he agreed The Observer. In addition, they requested to investigate if there was “some type of criminal offense” due to the “incomprehensible” of the IDM’s decision.

Next to Abeles is the lawyer Mauricio Fioronispecializing in environmental issues. The members of the League see Fioroni as one of the promoters of the complaints, representing the League in the cases against Sánchez Elía and Rossi. For the lawyer there is a context of “real estate pressure” in the seaside resort, where the search for new land leads owners to care “little” about construction fines. However, he believes that with the work done by the Liga house control was “improved”.

Constantini’s commitments

Jose Ignacio, the place "sophisticated and rugged" in which the neighbors are "the eyes of the Mayor"

Hearing for the house of Eduardo Costantini in José Ignacio, held in Pueblo Garzón

Businessman Edward Constantine He has a millionaire project to build his house in José Ignacio, but the proposal generated a reaction from the neighbors. They are 2,400 square meters, facing the sea, where the Argentine businessman will build a house of 1,647 square meters and US $ 5.6 million embedded in the middle of the stones immersed in the land.

The construction was authorized by the IDM and the Ministry of the Environment as a work of environmental level Bthat “may have moderate significant environmental impacts, the negative effects of which can be eliminated or minimized”. There is no one from the Administration in the audience.

The league requested a public hearing to learn details about the workdespite the fact that this type of instance is used in constructions with more environmental risks, of type C. The Ministry of the Environment first rejected and then accepted the request.

The inhabitants of the town, among them all the people mentioned above, arrived at the compound on the 5:30 p.m.. The hall of the building allows the more than fifty people present enter comfortably. Around a lectern to project images is the team of the Enviro consultancy, which presented the authorities and now will defend the house’s environmental report before the public, commanded by the surveyor engineer Daniel Sztern.

The first to speak is Costantini. He is one of the 2,000 richest men in the world, with a fortune of about $1.5 billion, according to Forbes. Words more, words less says that you want to treat your new house like “a work of art”.

From Enviro they say that they will bring native flora species from the area, they will move the “tucu tucu”, a rodent present in that part of the spa, they will put a layer of soil on top of the house. They will transport everything through trucks and break the necessary rocks without generating annoying noise. Also, they will not build from December to February.

It’s time for questions. Raimondo, a neighbor with more than 50 years in José Ignacio, asks “what will happen to the Indian cemetery”, that a Udelar study detected below the area, but that for Sztern it is on the land bordering Costantini’s. Others they go for the side of the lighting that will use the house. Others insist on tucu tucuwhich they say are endemic.

When asked questions, Enviro professionals seem confident: they say that the house is almost will not have external lighting. The archaeological part will be analyzed in depth after the approval of the project, and if they find something valuable (such as an Indian burial ground) they will work for its proper treatment.

After a few more consultations, the audience is adjourned and Constantini receives congratulations from some neighbors. After giving the businessman a hug, Sztern says that the project has just won the approval of José Ignacio. “When it was over, I almost shouted ‘I pronounce you husband and wife'” he says to laughter.

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