Mayors to give builders a bumpy ride

The cession of land in the area of the old airport, where 100 hectares of land plus 17 hectares owned by Hellenic Tourist Properties (ETA) are to be built on, is expected to run into major legal obstacles. Sources say that three applications for annulment, by 50-60 former owners of land in the Hasani area within the old airport’s grounds, have been made to the Council of State, and are due to be heard next May. The highest administrative court in the land has never heard a case of this kind before and will have to base its judgment on European law. It was in Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos’s time (1928-1932 and 1933) when a large section of Hellenikon, with Hasani as the center, was ceded to house refugees from the Asia Minor disaster of 1922. But these sections were expropriated in 1937 to make way for Athens airport. Construction of the airport, both for civilian and military purposes, began in 1938. During World War II, the German occupation forces attempted to extend the airport for military reasons, using corvee labor. But the Allies managed to delay completion of the work through nighttime air raids. The former owners of the Hasani area have set up up the Society of Expropriated Properties at Hellenikon Airport and have applied to the Council of State for the annulment of the decision by the Civil Aviation Authority to c ede a part of the old airport to Hellenic Tourist Properties. Their rationale is that since the reason for expropriation (the airport) has ceased to exist, the expropriation no longer stands. They also argue that the transfer of the property to ETA violates the right to own property, which is protected by the European Charter of Fundamental Human Rights and Article 17 of the Constitution. The Council of State will hear the case in May. On another front, the mayors of the four municipalities (Alimos, Hellenikon, Argyroupolis and Glyfada) within whose borders the old airport lies, met at the end of January and unanimously decided to insist on a municipal park. They also vowed to fight efforts to build over the area. The four municipalities aired the view that they should be consulted on which Olympic facilities would be needed after the Games and asked to be an effective part of any future management body.