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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

DNER official rejects charges that agency hasn’t acted on beach wall issue

Police on Sunday arrested a woman at Playa Los Almendros near the Sol y Playa condominium in Rincón, which has been the site of demonstrations over construction of a wall that environmental activists and others said encroached into the maritime terrestrial zone and threatened sea turtle nesting areas. An order scheduling the wall for demolition today has been appealed and a decision on the matter is pending.

By John McPhaul

Interim Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) Secretary Anaís Rodríguez Vega rejected on Sunday the criticism expressed by protesters at the Sol y Playa condominium properties in Rincón regarding the agency’s role in the controversy over a wall at the condominium that was built in the maritime terrestrial zone (MTZ).

“All matters surrounding the Rincón y Playa condominium in Rincón have been resolved in the courts and in administrative hearings before the DNER,” Rodríguez Vega said. “Of course, any public demonstration is allowed, as long as it is within the parameters of the applicable laws and regulations. If they are not, it is up to the Puerto Rico Police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to decide, not the DNER.”

Last Tuesday, the DNER refrained from reconsidering a request from the board of directors of the condominium regarding its resolution from early June that orders a new demarcation of the MTZ in front of Sol y Playa. In that resolution, the DNER declared the certification of the condo’s MTZ demarcation “null ab initio.”

At the same time, any interested party can start a new demarcation process.

“The General Court of Justice of Aguadilla has already ordered the removal of the illegal construction of the recreation area of the condominium. In addition, since last year the DNER ordered measures to protect wildlife in the area, with which we have been vigilant. For this reason, as we knew that there would be a demonstration, the Vigilance Corps was making sure to guide citizens in order to protect the natural resources and the habitat that exists in that area,” Rodríguez Vega said. “It is incorrect to say that the Vigilance Corps protected the exterior wall of the condominium today. As is our mission, we protect wildlife and natural resources to the extent that our resources allow.”

“Now, as Puerto Rico is an island of law and order, the laws and regulations allow any affected party to request reconsideration of the resolutions issued by the agencies, as well as appeal judicial determinations to a higher court,” the DNER official added. “There are many people in our community who have accepted this right.”

The people of Puerto Rico must recognize that their institutions have been effective in resolving the controversy, she added.

“Therefore, the environmental objectives of preservation and conservation in this area have been fulfilled, Rodríguez Vega said. “The DNER will not intervene if the objectives are otherwise. Our commitment to the people of Puerto Rico is and will be the conservation and protection of natural resources.”

On Sunday morning, the police arrested a woman at Playa Los Almendros near the Sol y Playa condominium, which was the site of demonstrations last year over construction of the wall that environmental activists and others said encroached into the MTZ and threatened sea turtle nesting areas.

According to the police, the 48-year-old woman, a resident of Añasco, allegedly struck a police officer on the left arm.

Officers from the Aguadilla Criminal Investigation Corps, Arrest and Search Division, consulted with prosecutor Víctor Ramos over the possible filing of charges against the woman.

Officials were scheduled to demolish the beachside wall today, after it was determined to be inside the MTZ. After the court ordered the owners of the property to demolish the wall, the order was appealed and a decision on the matter is pending.

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