Opponents say they have frozen Guanacaste project

Opponents of a major residential project in Guanacaste have caused the Sala IV constitutional court to freeze construction.

The court appeal was brought by Robert Campbell, a retired U.S. resident of the area, and the Confraternidad Guanacasteca, represented by Luis Carlos Sánchez Herrera.

The project is the sprawling Catalinas Properties Holding Ltda., where 2,500 luxury villas are planned on 79 hectares. The general manager of Catalinas was identified as Charles Brewer, who lives in Los Sueños.

The order suspending the work on the project is only temporary while the court considers the appeal.

The opponents argue that developers are cutting many trees and that this will cause erosion and damage. In addition they question what they claim is an irregular approval of nine wells that would provide water to the project. They also say that the paperwork for the project is not complete.

Governmental agencies also are named in the appeal.

They are the Área de Conservación Tempisque, the Dirección de Aguas of the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, the Municipalidad de Santa Cruz and the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental.

The property is near Playa Danta and Dantita in both Santa Cruz and Carrillo.  Catalinas has a 2010 Internet listing offering a 32-acre hotel site for sale for $17 million. The Internet also identifies Brewer as the managing partner with other general partners Stuart Meddin, Tom Claugus, and Bob Davey.

The residential project itself is 79 hectares or about 195 acres, according to court documents. Opponents said they worry that the wells will hurt the aquifer. According to the Sala IV appeal, the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental approved the wells Feb. 25, 2008. But the document questions the change in status of the property.

The location is north of Playa Flamingo.

The appeal also complains that the residential project is exclusively for foreigners with high economic power.

Catalinas is offering rental of some homes that already are built on its Web site.

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