Builder fined over illegal two-story addition

The Beersheba Court for Local Matters has imposed a fine of NIS 750,000 on a local building contractor who built a 14-story residential tower when he was authorized to build only 12 stories, reports Judge Yaakov Persky said the extra two stories were built in an attempt to profit at the expense of the public, and that ignoring the law in this way was a serious violation. According to the report, the city of Beersheba took the Moshe Zagori building company to court over the tower the company built on Rehov Gush Etzion in the Gimmel neighborhood, saying the case was "unprecedented in its severity" and that the company had acted like a law unto itself. In response, the company said it had acted innocently and that it was acceptable practice for contractors to seek permits for building work after the work was done. The company also said the project had brought it to the brink of bankruptcy and had caused the break-up of the company. In giving his decision, Judge Persky said the work had been done in an attempt to profit at the public expense, and "the last thing that can be claimed is that the defendants acted innocently." He said permits for the two extra floors were given retroactively after the authorities were faced with the "completed facts," but this did not reduce the gravity of the offense and it was a serious violation to ignore the law and build without a permit. The report said the city asked for the maximum possible fine of NIS 8 million, double the value of the two additional stories, but the judge decided to impose a fine of NIS 750,000.