Parrita mayor says he’s mystified by Villa las Flores court case

A lawsuit placed by the homeowners of Villas las Flores against the Municipality of Parrita has blindsided the mayor, Freddy Garro Arias.

He said Thursday he has no knowledge of the issue. And he said he doesn’t understand why the property owners are suing the municipality, when municipal officials do not recognize Palo Seco as an island. That is a key point in the court case because the central government says the location on the central Pacific coast is an island and an inappropriate spot for construction.

Tuesday lawyer Luis Ramírez Ramírez presented documents to the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo citing the Costa Rican state, the Instituto Nacional de Vivienda y Urbanismo, the Tribunal Registral Administrativo, the Municipality of Parrita, and Roger Mainville, the developer of Villas las Flores. Ramírez is representing the property owners of the villas who are facing eviction because, according to the Registro Nacional the land is on an island. According to Costa Rican law no person can own land on an island in the country, it says.

Mainville has also placed a lawsuit against the same entities, not including himself. He bought the property in 1991 and began development in 1993. Prior to the construction, he had to follow a process and have permits and other such documentation approved by the government beforehand. He had the legal approval to move forward with his development.

“They gave me all the permits in 1992 to construct with a seal and a signature,” said Mainville by telephone Thursday. “But in 2008 no more. That’s the government of Costa Rica.”

The developer said the only warning he received about the land was in 2008 when he tried to register new homes with the Registro Nacional. He said he hasn’t formally received a letter or email with an eviction notice. He just can’t sell or have any marketing activity on the property. He is in the same situation as the rest of the plaintiffs.

Mainville didn’t give the reason why he didn’t notify the property owners about the situation in 2008. They recently found out about their endangered property status. Instead, Mainville said the story was too long and he doesn’t like to discuss it by phone.

Some 20 foreigners, all property owners at Villas las Flores, are involved in the suit. Many are retired.

All land owners taking part in the suit against the state have already paid for their homes in full, and have continued to pay for the maintenance, including the required taxes, bills, and Villa las Flores employees since they became a member of the community. The state had no problem charging them, said Ramírez at the Tuesday session.

The Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo evaluated the actions of state entities.

The case has resonated with A.M. Costa Rica readers. One woman said via email Thursday that she has driven her car to the location and that the car would now be under water if the location was an island. Unclear is why the government is targeting this location when many other islands are occupied.

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