Greens vs Green Park

Environmentalists have won a struggle against a Har Nof housing development.

har nof 88 (photo credit: )
har nof 88
(photo credit: )
After three years of struggle, environmentalists and grassroots activists have won a victory against the Green Park project in Har Nof. Last week, the National Planning Council (Israel's highest planning body) ruled in favor of their objections and canceled plans for the $40 million, three-building residential project that had been slated for Rehov Hai Taib, on the slope where Har Nof meets the Jerusalem Forest. More than 2,000 Har Nof residents signed a petition against the 111-unit project and joined green groups, spearheaded by Shomera Lesviva Tova (Guardian for a Good Environment), a non-profit founded in Har Nof, in objecting. Among the groups filing objections were the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the Jewish National Fund and the Union for Environmental Defense (Adam Teva V'Din). Green Park was being developed by two Chicago investors: Jack Rajchenbach, head of the medical services holding company Itex and the J&J real-estate development firm, and Yisrael Gluck, whose real-estate firm, American Landmark Projects, manages more than a billion square meters of property, including controlling interest in the Sears Tower in Chicago. Valimer International Inc. was the official Israeli development company. Opponents claimed that the project would block the neighborhood's only window to the forest, interfere with access to a promenade planned along the forest's edge and impinge on the quality of life in an already densely populated neighborhood. The Planning Council wrote in its decision that "the plan is not desirable both from the point of view of the macro- and the micro-plan… The western edges of the neighborhood, along which is planned a public promenade, form the line between built-up and open areas, between building and preservation. What justification is there for a plan that will infringe on this border? To this question, we did not find an answer… Imposition of the plan… is not desirable at a time when its justification, in light of the sensitivity of the site and its environs is not at all clear." "I think cancellation of this plan is an amazing result, with major implications not only for Har Nof but for planning in Jerusalem in general," said Tamar Gindis, head of Shomera. "It shows that if Jerusalem residents are willing to fight for what they believe in, they can win." Green Park representatives could not be reached for comment.