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Moratorium on issuance of zoning exemptions passed

24 July 2020 – The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, approved on first reading a proposed ordinance imposing a moratorium on the issuance of exemptions to the city’s zoning ordinance or the city land use plan (CLUP).

The council stated that a moratorium on the grant of exemptions by the Local Zoning Board on Adjustments and Appeals (LZBAA) from the CLUP or zoning ordinance will be suspended for 15 years from the effectivity of the measure to prevent the city from suffering urban decay.

Under the proposed ordinance, no locational clearance shall be issued when the intended construction will deviate from the city’s zoning ordinance while no building permit shall be issued by the City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO) on constructions of any kind that would be inconsistent with the land classification or land use of a lot under the zoning ordinance.

However, an exemption from the CLUP and zoning can be granted through an ordinance based on conditions that an ordinance is passed re-classing the use of certain parcels of land as part of zoning; when the intended use was reclassified by virtue of a law passed by Congress or Proclamations as when the land is released for other uses; when the classification of the land is in conflict with the final order of the court; when by virtue of the character of the land, the same cannot be utilized for its intended use or classification in the zoning and when the reclassification will better serve public welfare, public interest and public policy.

The council stipulated that any government employee who knowingly issues location clearance or building permit in violation of the measure shall be administratively charged for grave misconduct under civil service rules and penalized with an imprisonment of one year and a standard fine of P5,000.

Moreover, any person who deviates or violates the zoning ordinance upon which a locational clearance and a building permit was issued shall be penalized with an imprisonment of one year and a fine of P5,000. In addition, the building and construction made shall be subject to withdrawal of building permit and administrative demolition.

According to the council, the local government as a regulating agency has the responsibility to counter check the effects of the zoning exemptions and variance on the utilization of lands covered in the city’s zoning, thus, the need to impose the moratorium on the same for valid reasons.

The council anchored the proposed ordinance on alleged facts and studies that showed that Baguio City has reached its carrying capacity in all facets, be it demography, infrastructure development, traffic and transportation and other aspects of development.

The council argued that the same brought negative impact on the city’s ecology and its environs, particularly the unabated constructions of commercial buildings on what used to be residential lands that eventually paved way for the alleged destruction of century-old naturally-grown trees which could have been preserved had not for conversions or exemptions from the existing zoning and land use plan that had been the subject of questions by advocates for the preservation and protection of the city’s state of the environment. - Dexter A. See