Adam Teva V’Din calls for recall of Tel Hashomer housing plans

In 10 of the wells around the perimeter of the area, investigators identified "volatile and highly toxic, some even carcinogenic materials," head of Water Authority said.

January 26, 2015 18:22
2 minute read.
settlement construction

A laborer works on an apartment building under construction in Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Arguing that plans for treating contaminated land at the site of Tel Hashomer army base are insufficient, Adam Teva V’Din – Israel Union for Environmental Defense demanded on Monday that housing construction plans for the area be reconsidered.

In a petition to Tel Aviv District Court on Monday morning, the organization argued against promoting the construction plans through the Committee for the Preferred Housing Program (the “Vatmal”), which serves to accelerate housing projects.

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The petitioners demanded that the court counter the government’s decision to declare the Tel Hashomer site in Ramat Gan a preferred housing project within the committee, and instead transfer the plans to the traditional, more stringent planning route designated by the Planning and Building Law.

The complex and longterm process required to identify and treat contaminated soil and water at the site does not match the goals of the Committee for the Preferred Housing Program, which aims for a rapid increase in housing and in particular rental units, the petitioners argued.

They cited the opinion of Sarah Elhanani, head of the Water Authority’s water quality division, which states that decades of military action led Tel Hashomer base’s land to become extremely contaminated.

In 10 of the wells around the perimeter of the area, investigators identified “volatile and highly toxic, some even carcinogenic, materials,” according to Elhanani.

Adam Teva V’Din is therefore seeking that the government complete more thorough inspections and surveys of the land and water in the area, so that the planning committee is able to have a full picture of the of scope of the pollution, the organization said.

The petition noted that plans approved under the Committee for the Preferred Housing Program must begin construction within four years or undergo a mandatory revision. Adam Teva V’Din researchers have estimated that even in the most optimistic scenario, the construction plans at Tel Hashomer would only be able to begin in about eight years.

The organization also complained that despite the declared objectives of the Committee for the Preferred Housing Program toward solving the housing shortage, the Tel Hashomer plans lack any rates for long-term rentals. About 70 percent of the units in the plans are slated to be built and marketed without the establishment of any units for rent, the organization said.

On Sunday, the Israel Lands Authority published its detailed plans for the 2,800 housing units slated to be constructed in the planned “Eucalyptus neighborhood” in the eastern portion of the former Tel Hashomer base.

About 12.8 hectares (31.6 acres) are designated for the construction of 2,224 nine story to 11 story buildings.

An additional three hectares have been planned to hold 456 buildings of up to nine floors, of which two stories will contain commercial ventures and seven stories will contain apartments, the ILA said.

“The only questionable benefit of the program may be for anyone who wishes to exhibit a display of falsehood regarding the start of a solution to the housing shortage, by approving a giant new building plan in Tel Hashomer,” said Amit Bracha, executive director of Adam Teva V’Din.

“But we cannot allow for the realization of these plans in the foreseeable future, with the health and environmental contamination risks,” he said.

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