North Mitrovica MA councilors adopt a proposal to postpone the process of demolishing illegal buildings

Posted by Kosovo Sever portal on Thursday, 1 October 2020

The councilors of the North Mitrovica Municipal Assembly decided today to postpone the demolition of illegal buildings on municipal land until further notice. The decision was reached with 11 votes in favor and without any abstentions or votes against the motion.

Dozens of small retailers and caterers from North Mitrovica held a protest yesterday against the demolition of illegal buildings built on municipal land in the post-war period.

The demolition is part of a project to renovate sidewalks and beautify the town. They demanded from the municipality to postpone the demolition for two years until a deal is reached – on what they see as a fair solution – for the existing buildings to be legalized and for them to pay an annual rent to the municipality.

Although the main request of the citizens who protested yesterday was for the demolition to be postponed for at least two years, today’s decision of the North Mitrovica MA does not have a specific deadline.

„On behalf of the Municipality of North Mitrovica, and at the request of the owners of temporary and illegal facilities in the territory of the Municipality of North Mitrovica, I present a proposal to postpone the process of removing the abovementioned facilities. Users of temporary and illegally constructed buildings are invited to appoint their representatives who will work in cooperation with municipal authorities to find solutions to the abovementioned process. The removal of the disputed buildings is suspended until representatives of the temporary and illegal facilities and the municipal authorities reach an agreement,“ reads part of the proposal the Minister of Local Government Administration, Adriana Hodzic presented to the councilors.

After the session, independent councilor Dusan Milunovic told KoSSev that the proposal for the demolition of these buildings was adopted at the previous session, which was closed to the public.

„At one of the previous sessions, we talked and we were told that clear information arrived that we had to accept the demolition of illegally built buildings. Honestly, we all voted in favor, the decision to demolish the buildings was unanimously adopted,“ said Milunovic.

When asked who instructed the councilors on how they should vote, he replied: „You know how the voting system functions.“

This independent councilor of the North Mitrovica MA recalled that Srpska Lista has an absolute majority in the Assembly and that the votes of the SL councilors are enough for any decision to be adopted.

While suggesting that legal experts should become part of the commission, along with the owners and users of the disputed buildings, Milunovic further claimed that not all buildings designated for demolition are located on municipal land.

A representative of the owners and users of illegal facilities and the organizer of yesterday’s protest, Aleksandar Arsenijevic also attended today’s MA session. He welcomed the decision reached by the Assembly and confirmed that they will agree to participate in the formation of a joint expert group.

Arsenijevic also underlined that he would search for a solution for the owners and those employed in the shops that were previously demolished and those who rent the space they use, urging them to contact him.

The protesters met Hodzic and Aleksandar Spiric, acting mayor, yesterday, after their city march yesterday. As protesters said, they had been initially requested to join the meeting without media, but they rejected this option, while on a live broadcast with KoSSev.

After being warned by the municipality that illegal constructions must be removed, they emphasized that they are not against the beautification of the city.

“Nobody here is bothered by order, we are bothered by disorder”, said one of the protesters, Nikola Ralevic, who owns a bar with, in his words, permits and proof of payment of obligations.

Some of them say that amongst illegal contructions there are some of them with certain permits, including the period before the war.

Protesters also complained that the demolition started without a solution being agreed, while some of them adding that the municipal administration leaders ignored their attempts to reach them and discuss the issue.

Some complained of unfulfilled promises still, three years after their bars were demolished.
Everyone complains that hundreds of people are allegedly left without basic income and that the representatives of the local self-government were inaccessible to them on several occasions.

They also complained allegedly biased treatment of private entrepreneurs in the city. As an example, they stated that “through the non-transparent process, permits were given for the construction of facilities that were erected on one of the few children’s playgrounds in the city’s centre, endangering the foundations of the buildings between which it was built” (Knez Bar). As another example, the tower building which was built across the walking path.

The beautification project of North Mitrovica is currently in progress, within which the demolition of illegal shops built on public land has been planned – and which has been partially carried out.

These illegal shops and bars were built after the 1999 war in Kosovo. As the dissatisfied entrepreneurs and shop owners stressed, there are about 200 such facilities.

Dragan Spasojevic, the head of the Department of Urbanism, also confirmed for KoSSev yesterday that the buildings being demolished were illegally built on a public area. Spasojevic, however, could not currently confirm the exact number of such objects.



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