• The San Juan Daily Star

DNER chief denies construction work at Rincón condo has been OK’d

Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado

By John McPhaul

Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado denied Tuesday that an agreement with the Sol y Playa condominium in Rincón for the protection of wildlife is an endorsement for the restart of paralyzed construction work that impinges on the coastal maritime zone.

“I must reject that the stipulations reached between the parties for the ‘case of wildlife’ in the Sol y Playa de Rincón condominium intend or attempt in any way or by subterfuge, to validate, endorse or restart construction work that is legally impeded at this time from continuing,” Machargo said in a written statement.

In a press release, the DNER secretary said that by agreement the construction of a temporary fence was established to protect endangered sea turtles and prevent them from entering the construction space in the area.

“This protection fence is established for the sole purpose of protecting the species and will be reinstalled, as it had been removed by third parties, under the supervision of DNER personnel,” Machargo Maldonado said. “This is temporary and will be established with non-permanent materials approved by our staff. And so that there are no more misunderstandings, it is indicated in the stipulations that this fence is not constituted as construction in the area that violates the established stoppage order. This fence does not seek to erect boundaries … and it will remain in the area until the Planning Board, the DNER or a competent court or forum decides otherwise.”

“On the other hand, and far from what has been said publicly, the stipulations recognize the right to exercise freedom of expression,” the DNER secretary added. “However, the demonstrations for the turtles to be protected must be carried out in accordance with the laudable purpose sought, doing so to the detriment of the protection they claim to seek would be contradictory; for this reason we have indicated certain practices that must be followed, and that the environmentalists tend to know.”

Machargo Maldonado added that the determination is not intended to “affect, intervene or influence the right to exercise freedom of expression,” but that right should not “undermine the right of residents to their privacy and integrity.”

“These provisions serve the sole purpose we pursue, to protect wildlife, and there is nothing in them that serve anything other than that,” he pointed out. “Thinking something else is just wrong.”

Marchargo maintained that it was his agency that filed a complaint against the condominium on July 16 and issued a construction cease and desist order.

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