The Carolina municipal government has put an end to a 10-year-old legal fight with CH Properties for some 4 acres of pristine beachfront property, for which it paid $2 million, town officials announced.
This resolution puts an end to litigation that will grant the municipality administration and maintenance of this part of the coast which it will integrate into the Balneario de Carolina, a public beach.
The municipality acquired from CH Properties all of the leasing rights of a total 5 acres of the land. The parties also agreed to put an end to all legal disputes currently in court related to Damages; Forcible expropriation of the lease for the 5 acres of land; and Contesting the Maritime Zone; among others, town officials said.
The resolution between the municipality and CH Properties, the company that manages the Marriott Courtyard — located adjacent to the land in dispute — will be allowed to continue leasing the use of an already established parking lot next to the property, which is equivalent to 0.92 acres of land.
However, the parties agreed that no future new construction of hotels, condo-hotels, new rooms, casinos or similar facilities will be allowed on the premises covered by the lease.
“We stayed within the legal limits during this long process and we always tried to defend the common good,” Carolina Mayor José Carlos Aponte said.
“While it is true that the Municipality of Carolina remained in an objective position to address the contract ceding the balneario, it is fair to say that we fought for what we consider most beneficial for all citizens,” he said.
“And, with this resolution we recovered almost all the land in dispute to incorporate it to the Balneario de Carolina and thereby avoid the uncertainty of the consequences of various complex and protracted litigation,” Aponte said.
The land will be integrated into the town’s program to project the public beach starting with clean-up work, protection of the existing urban garden and services include lifeguards, safety and medical emergencies.
As part of the integration plan, specialized brigades specializing in environmental protection and beautification will be assigned to clean the area so that it is suitable for visitors, Aponte said.
Debris, structures, garbage and objects that contaminate sand will be removed. Existing trees will protected to preserve the coastal garden, he said.
For years, advocates of the Amigos del Mar nonprofit and other environmentalists that maintained a camp on the site, have been in talks with the municipality’s legal team to “vacate the premises peacefully.”
Environmental movement leaders and the groups supporting them have expressed satisfaction with the end of the protracted legal fight, which frees the beach for public use.
The land will also be included under the municipal recycling program and all the benefits available to the 45 acres of land comprising the public beach, which has earned a “Blue Flag” for 15 consecutive years for its environmental care, town officials said.
The Balneario de Carolina has 10 lifeguard towers; paramedic services, as well as maritime and land security. It receives more than 400,000 visitors a year and since Hurricane María, the municipality has invested more than $1.7 million in repairs to the water park, gazebos, signage, cleanliness and electrical system, Aponte said.