Shrine Hills now a protected zone

June 18th, 2013 by

ENVIRONMENTALISTS participating in the revisions of Davao City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (Clup) welcomed the City Council’s decision to protect Shrine Hills from further urbanization by designating it as a protected zone.

Idis policy advocacy specialist Chinkie Pelino lauded the move as a “strong exercise of political will” as the City Council in a special session last Thursday moved to declare Shrine Hills as an Urban Ecological Enhancement Sub-zone.

“What this means is that further subdivision development will be prohibited along the hilly terrain in order to protect its ecological value as the city’s nearest green park,” she said.

The City Council has zeroed in on the proposed Clup, conducting several special sessions, and prioritizing contentious issues on the proposed updated zoning ordinance.

The council considered the item on proposed Clup vital, discussing it effectively by holding special sessions during the first two weeks of June.

Among the controversial issues settled during the special sessions were declaring Shrine Hills as protected zone and not double low density residential zone as proposed earlier; and the possibility of revoking the special use permit already issued to two memorial parks that are to be built in identified Water Resource Zone in the city.

Councilor Arnulfo Cabling said these were the two “opposing issues” under volume 2 (proposed Updated Zoning Ordinance).

The possible revocation of the two memorial parks with special use permit issued was agreed on June 10, leading to the rewording of the Section 7.3 of the proposed ordinance as: “Subject to the requirement of due process of law and when public interest so requires, special use permit granted for cemeteries and memorial parks or areas within the water resource zone as provided within may be recalled and revoked.”

The Shrine Hills issue, on the other hand, was also settled on June 13.

On Tuesday afternoon (June 18), the City Council will tackle anew the proposed Clup embodying the updated Sectoral and Land Use Plans of the city and the draft updated zoning ordinance.

Cabling earlier said Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has certified it as urgent in order for the City Council to approve the measure before her term ends.

Pelino, who attended the council session on the Clup amendments, also said that the City Council had agreed that upon the approval of the amendments to the zoning ordinance, all existing subdivision projects and structures at Shrine Hills will be declared “existing but non-conforming.”

Under the amended Clup, the Urban Ecological Enhancement Sub-zone is defined as “areas intended for massive greening program for ecological enhancement in major urban zone as precautionary and pro-active approach to climate change adaptation and part of risk reduction management against flooding,” particularly in areas prone to landslides.

A previous Mines and Geosciences Bureau study has identified some portions of Shrine Hills as highly susceptible to landslides and flooding.

Because of these amendments, all the Preliminary Approval on Locational Clearances (Palcs), which were granted to the high class subdivisions currently being developed in the area, will be revoked.

“Only climate mitigating and adapting development will be allowed in the area, subject to the approval of City Council and based on the guidelines that will be developed by the City Engineer’s Office,” Pelino said.

Despite the early victory, environmentalists are still keeping their fingers crossed as a lot can still happen during the days leading to Tuesday’s regular session, when the council is expected to adopt the amendments during the second reading of the proposed ordinance.

Idis executive director Ann Fuertes called on Dabawenyos to show their support for the ordinance, adopting the amendments to the Clup.

“Now more than ever, we need to support this city’s development direction by showing up at the SP (City Council) session and help push for the approval of this ordinance,” she said.

Once the ordinance is passed and the amendments adopted, Fuertes said green groups are looking forward to a participatory and multi-sectoral approach in developing Shrine Hills into a green park.  (Arianne Caryl Casas, Sunstar Davao)