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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

DNER chief: Rincón condo pool ruling shows the legal process works

Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado

By John McPhaul

Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado expressed satisfaction on Tuesday with the judicial decision halting the construction of a swimming pool at the Sol y Playa condominium in Rincón.

“The result of all these processes could seem slow and even incomprehensible to some; however, the regulatory agencies are obliged to protect the right to due process of law of all parties involved,” Machargo Maldonado said in a written statement. “All administrative hearing processes are carried out in accordance with the law and regulations. The best conclusion we can come to is that the law and order procedures have worked.”

Aguadilla Superior Court Judge Abid Eriel Quiñones Portalatín declared null and void on Monday the construction permit of the owners of the Sol y Playa de Rincón condominium.

“Consequently, the consolidated construction permit number 2020-344034-PCOC-010814 is declared null and void. The stoppage of the construction work begun on the property that is the subject of this lawsuit is ordered,” Judge Quiñones Portalatín said in his ruling. “Likewise, the defendant is ordered to demolish any construction work carried out under the aforementioned permit and must remove the debris from the property and return it to its natural state, within a term of 120 days.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Puerto Rico Planning Board against the members of the residents’ board to have their construction permit revoked to remodel, build or rebuild the condominium’s pool, jacuzzi, bathrooms, gazebos, existing sidewalks and new sidewalks.

The permit was granted on Jan. 29, 2021. In the application, engineer Enrique Santiago Arroyo argued that construction in the area would not have a significant environmental impact, as an argument for the project to be considered under the categorical exclusion clause.

However, the Planning Board alleged in the lawsuit that the information provided by the engineer was incorrect and therefore did not meet the requirements for categorical exclusion.

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