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Homeowners buck SM highrise on Katipunan

[ ] February 28-March1, 2009 ]

By Joel M. Sy Egco

Parishioners and residents of gated enclaves along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City are up against a plan of SM Development Corp. to erect a 31-storey commercial and residential condominium.

Fr. Emmanuelo Sarez, parish priest of the Sta. Maria della Strada church at the corner of Pansol St., yesterday led officers of the parish and homeowners associations in denouncing three city councilors to exempt the planned Stanford Residences from local building height and traffic regulations.

Sarez and La Vista Homeowners Association president Renato Romero, residents of Loyola Grand Villas and Bgy. Pansol residents, among other groups, attended the public hearing by the committee on city planning, building and zoning on a proposed resolution filed by the councilors granting the special accommodation.

The hearing was deferred on a last minute notice that committee chairman RJ Belonte would be unable to attend because he was reportedly on his honeymoon; but the groups decided to air their objections.

“The SM’s move to seek exemption from the provision of Art. VI Sec. 4 [traffic generation] and Sec. 11 [height regulation] of the comprehensive zoning ordinance no. SP-918, S-2000, reflects corporate insensitivity to the potential negative impact of its action on existing communities and parishes in the Katipunan area,” a position letter submitted by the oppositors said.

They were referring to Proposed Resolution 09-58 authored by Councilors Victor Ferrer, Jesus Suntay and Winston Castelo, which would authorize the issuance of certificate of exemption to SMDC.

Stanford Residences high-rise is designed for 1,316 units with a roofdeck on a site near the Petron gasoline station and Miriam College.

Former Senator Francisco Tatad acted as spokesman for La Vista residents, echoing their apprehension that the project would worsen the traffic congestion in the vicinity, among other concerns.

SMDC representatives sat out the proceedings without making any comment.

The measure’s authors said the project “will not adversely affect the public health, safety and welfare and the appropriate use of the adjoining property, it also provides and promotes livelihood.”

But the letter signed by Sarez and 10 other parishioners indicated otherwise.

“We equally oppose the rhetorical claims of [Castelo, Ferrer and Suntay], who support the [SMDC project]... what could have been the empirical bases of such statement? Was there an environmental impact assessment done? Were there prior consultations with the affected stakeholders and parishioners of the Sta. Maria della Strada Parish regarding their perceived impact of the project for our local councilors to be able to make such claims?” the group asked.

“Adding 1,316 residential with few commercial units will only worsen the present traffic situation. Will the SMDC provide the necessary infrastructure to ease the traffic congestion in the area?” they asked.

“Will the SMDC invest in the upgrade and modernization of the utilities and infrastructures needed to service the affected households?”

The hearing was set for next week when Belmonte would be expected to return from his honeymoon.


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