Municipalities and their populaces are being held hostage by Church’s claims
Some of the area that is being claimed is prime real estate – both presently and in the future. For example, a part of the 43.3 hectares in Petroupolis is green space where the city ends and the mountain begins. According to Deputy Mayor Nikos Sakoutis, part of the site has already been reclassified from «forest» to «meadow»; on occasion there have even been advertisements for villas in the forest. Konaxis emphasizes the Metropolis’s social welfare work and says that any income from use of the land will be used for such purposes. He recalls certain «donations» by the Metropolis, chiefly for the construction of churches, as well as 2 hectares in Peristeri for a school. Of course, these are very small areas compared to the Metropolis’s demand for the expropriation of 60 public squares. Meanwhile, infrastructure projects have been put on hold. «Over 500 children, pupils at the Fourth Junior High School and the Third Senior High in Petroupolis are freezing in prefabricated classrooms since construction on the new school was stopped due to ownership disputes raised by private individuals and the Metropolis,» said the president of the Fourth Junior High’s parents’ association. At the same time, thousands of small property owners – mostly unskilled workers who had bought small plots of land – were in for a rude shock when they tried to transfer ownership or sell and were stopped by the Metropolis’s claims to the land. They were then forced to pay for the land a second time. Petroupolis’s mayor charged that owners of small plots had been forced to pay up to 5,000 euros to representatives of the Metropolis. Other charges raised the amounts to 10,000-15,000 euros. «The Metropolis cannot allow its property to remain unprotected,» said Konaxis while admitting the practice, although he put the amount at around 500,000 drachmas (around 1,500 euros). Nevertheless, these owners will have to pay another «capital tax» of 3-7 percent of the land’s objective value. The mayor estimated that the Lamia Metropolis has been compensated for a number of properties of up to 100 hectares and that any inheritance claims have long ceased to be valid. He even went as far as referring to a «mafia» exploiting property and emphasized that the state’s services were not protecting its property.