Holbox: development projects awaiting approval. Holbox: development projects awaiting approval.

Third party to draw up development limits

Isla Holbox residents, federal agency agree to hire independent party

A disagreement over land-use regulations in Isla Holbox has been resolved with an agreement by both sides in the dispute to leave the development of a management plan in the hands of a third, independent party.

The disagreement followed the publication in November of a plan prepared by the federal National Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp).

The move was deemed “authoritarian” by residents, who warned that the issue could spark a “social conflict.”

The plan established a density of no more than 0.16 hotel rooms per hectare on the island, a popular tourist destination in Quintana Roo, which represents 1.5% of the total surface area of Isla Holbox.

Community land owners rejected the density, claiming that it would impede the island’s socio-economic development. They proposed a density of four rooms per hectare instead.

The land in contention is part of the wildlife protection area of Yum Balam, and thus subject to stricter land use regulations.

In order to break the impasse between the federation and residents, both parties agreed to start working with the non-governmental organization Pedro y Elena Hernández Foundation to identify an independent and international party to mediate.

A list of potential candidate firms is to be completed and presented by January 31. The goal is to choose a firm by the end of February.

Once selected, the third party will review all available data and the studies performed by Conanp and residents. The process is to take into account the vision of all parties involved while considering the interests of the community in general to be paramount.

The local mayor said in December that more than 50 new development projects are awaiting approval. But Emilio Jiménez Ancona said the island is not ready because there is a risk that the sewer system will fail as it did last year.

Work on the system is 60% complete, he said, forecasting it will be operational this year.

There was a protest by residents last summer over deficiencies in sewer, water and electrical services.

Source: Milenio (sp), Riviera Maya News (en)

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