New Land Use Plan Could Threaten the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve
Updated: Aug 26, 2019
Last month, Puerto Rico’s Planning Board (Junta de Planificacion in Spanish) announced its intentions to update the island’s district map and modify existing zoning classifications to redefine land use around the island. In Rincón, the proposed changes would reclassify land adjacent to the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve by allowing for the development of residential and commercial properties.
On Monday, July 22nd, the Planning Board held a public hearing in Aguadilla titled “Presentation of Puerto Rico Zoning District Map and it’s Equivalent Classification Geodatabase” to present a new proposal for zoning in the northwest. Members of the community were given the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the proposed changes. The Mayor of Rincón, Carlos López, advocated for the preservation of the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve. He highlighted that the new zoning would violate a community consensus to protect the land around the reserve (see 2016 classification map labeling the land around Tres Palmas as Special Rustic with Ecological Protection).
Currently, potential development on this adjacent land must adhere to guidelines that limit the size of residential or commercial structures. However, if the Planning Board’s new classifications take effect, the land would be designated as Residential Tourism, now with even fewer limitations on development. In response to Carlos Lopez, the Board stated that its team was aware of the issue and promised that the classification was rectified in the system. To that point, Miguel Canals Silander, an oceanography expert and resident of Rincón, mentioned that those changes are not evident in the agency’s most recent zoning proposal, wherein only a small portion of the reserve has been classified for preservation. The board did not have additional comments in response.
The presentation of the proposed zoning map can be viewed online. Residents are invited to submit their concerns and opinions to the Planning Board regarding these proposed changes. The commentary period is open until September 9, 2019 and comments can be submitted via the online system (see slideshow below) or by writing directly via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post (Junta de Planificacion, PO Box 41119, San Juan, PR 00940)
Follow the steps above to access the Planning Board's website to submit comments on the proposed changes