NEWS

Hooking up to public utilities

The government intends to deal with the fines, but that alone will not solve the problem of 1 million illegal buildings. It simply paves the way to gradual normalization of the status quo. This is because, apart from the one-off construction fine, the fine for maintaining an illegal building continues to apply until the building is demolished or included in the town plan. The arrangement of debts due so far (36 or 48 installments at a discount of 40 or 50 percent), does not put a stop to the process of imposing fines for maintaining an illegal building. Sources say that YPEHODE is considering changing the method of determining fines and will probably limit the percentage of the building’s value, which is used to calculate the fine for building and maintaining an illegal building. YPEHODE’s chief concern is to simplify the procedure for issuing new town-planning studies, which currently take up to 12 years to complete. The ministry blames the delay on bureaucratic hitches and hopes the decentralization of powers to prefects will shorten that time to three years. According to YPEHODE’s general secretary, Stavros Kambelis, three of the 10 years needed for a study was spent in allocating it, and another 40 percent in bureaucratic delays within YPEHODE itself. Long delays on the part of the person conducting the study will be dealt with by a new regulation limiting the time so spent to three months. Illegal buildings will be hooked up to public utilities once the study has been put on display in the local town hall, as long as the buildings are not in protected areas or listed as public or for common use. The new regulations will allow connection to the network of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) in all areas where the first stage of inclusion in the town plan is complete. Committees of YPEHODE and prefecture and municipal officials will examine applications for hookups to the PPC electricity supply. Priority will go to owners with severe health problems, those living in accommodation that only covers basic needs, who have very low incomes or have large families, and for buildings that do not exceed the average building ratio mandated for that area. Buildings excluded from this provision are those located on archaeological sites, the seashore, streambeds and forestland. Owners who want to connect their properties to public utilities must produce a topographical diagram of the building, documents from the municipality attesting to their family status, and certifying that the building is not located on land designated for common use, as well as proof of their taxation status. Municipalities are expected to play a major role in the gradual legalization of illegal buildings and in preventing the development of a new generation of illegal construction. They are involved in the basic procedures and are obliged to report new cases of illegal building, otherwise they will have to pay YPEHODE an amount equal to 30 percent of the construction fine.