As the municipal elections approach, the now ex-Grosjean plot is once again being talked about in Chêne-Bougeries. In early December, the city’s executive wrote to the state councilor in charge of the territory, Antonio Hodgers, asking him to downgrade these 2.8 hectares of former market garden land to green areas. In other words, it would be impossible for the real estate company Westpark, which bought the land at the end of 2018 for more than 14million francs, to build anything there.
For its part, the latter filed almost a year ago a request for authorization to build for a set of terraced villas, following the rejection in the ballot boxes, in March 2018, of the eleven buildings originally planned. But this new project was refused in mid-November by the Department of Territory (DT) of Antonio Hodgers. Result: almost two years after the referendum against the decommissioning of this plot, its fate remains uncertain and the file still seems to be burning.
From the popular will
Brief backtrack. François Grosjean, the former mayor of Chêne-Bougeries, and his family signed a promise to sell their land in Westpark nine years ago. The plot must be downgraded from villa zone to development zone to erect eleven buildings totaling 268 dwellings, in accordance with the cantonal master plan, which plans to densify housing in this sector.
The Municipality gives a positive notice to the Localized Neighborhood Plan (PLQ) and to the decommissioning, but local residents launch a referendum to transform the premises into an urban farm. More than half (54%) of the municipal population agrees, forcing the Administrative Council to change its tune and give negative notice. However, the Grosjean family honored their promise to sell, which expired at the end of 2018, and Westpark acquired the plot.
This will complicate our relations with Westpark to negotiate a more reasonable localized district plan
Catherine Armand, City Councilor
Since this vote, the state has been looking for a solution to build buildings on the plot anyway, while taking a step in the direction of the referendum committee, while for its part, Westpark is trying to be forgotten. Its administrator, Jean-Marc Jorand, remains silent since the disavowal of the ballot boxes. We only know that Westpark has appealed against the DT’s refusal of the semi-detached villas project, which is not linked to the moratorium on the villas area decreed at the end of November by Antonio Hodgers. Indeed, the former Grosjean plot is part of the 11% of the villa area that is not affected by this freeze, since the State has in any case long ago decided to densify it.
Villas refused by the state
On the contrary, it was the low density of the project that motivated its refusal. “Building villas in this location will have a major impact on nature for ultimately few homes,” said DT spokesperson Rafaèle Gross-Barras. The idea is to build buildings with green spaces around them and, if possible, maintain the farm so that it becomes public in the long term, like that of Budé. “
A program incompatible with a possible classification in a green area. What about the popular will? “It is essentially up to the municipal authorities to respond to the popular will expressed by the municipal ballot boxes,” retorts Rafaèle Gross-Barras. Never mind if the State has the final say on whether or not to downgrade the plot …
But for the moment, Antonio Hodgers has not responded on the merits to the Chêne-Bougeries Administrative Council. He just told her that to be valid, such a request could only come from the City Council, through a resolution. What will happen if he has to vote on it? In 2018, the Greens were the only party to support the referendum. But today, PLR mayor Jean Locher is the instigator of the letter sent to Antonio Hodgers by the municipal executive. Will his party – which has not been consulted according to our information – also be in favor of the green area?
For his part, the magistrate PLR, candidate for his re-election, refused to answer us. His approach gives rise to squeaks within the opposition. “This is a mind-blowing jacket reversal, for purely electoral purposes,” said the municipal councilor of Alternative Catherine Armand, also a candidate for the Administrative Council. “In 2018, the PLR fought the referendum in the name of respect for private property. And now that Westpark has bought the plot, he wants to classify it as a green area, which amounts almost to an expropriation. In addition, it is counterproductive because it will complicate our future relationships with Westpark to negotiate a more reasonable localized district plan. ”
Created: 19.01.2020, 8:08 p.m.