Non au betonnage: The French go to war over urban planning

POSTED: 10/5/15 1:37 PM


Non au betonnageThe flyer the association is handing out to citizens on the French side. Photo Today / Hilbert Haar

MARIGOT/St. Martin – PLU has rapidly become an offensive word on the French side. The letters stand for Plan Local d’Urbanisme – the government’s plan for urban planning in the districts. The Association We Love Saint Martin, under president Gilles Kalaïdites, is busy mobilizing the population against the plans. With a flyer showing the headline ‘Non au betonnage de Saint Martin’ (No to Concreting Saint Martin), members of the association took to the streets this week to make clear that they do not want to see high rises appear that do not fit in the environment.

Until October 30, the association has opened a public registry where supporters can sign on to their plight, daily from 8.15 a.m. at the old hospital.

“During the consultation period most of the citizens have not understood at all that the development wanted by the government would be a threat to their living environment by authorizing the arrival of massive and charmless real estate next to their homes,” Kalaïdites writes in an open letter to Aline Hanson, the President of the Collectivité d’Outremer de Saint Martin.

There will be winners and losers if the plans are not adjusted Kalaïdites points out in the letter.

Among the losers are tourists who come to Saint Martin for its ‘French charm’, owners of construction sites whose sites will be downgraded, citizens whose living environment will deteriorate and investors who have put money into touristic inns and who will be penalized by the arrival of large structures in their vicinity. Among the winners will be investors who anticipated the arrival of the PLU and who bought land accordingly.

Kalaïdites notes that the French urban planning laws do not apply to Saint Martin anymore since 2012. “We have the opportunity to have urban planning that takes into account the characteristics of Saint Martin in the general interest.”

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