Monastery fined for illicit homes

Town-planning officials have fined the Pendeli Monastery in northern Athens some 1 million euros after ruling that six houses that have been built on one of its sites were constructed without permission, sources said yesterday. Engineers from the town-planning office visited the monastery’s inter-Orthodox center on June 27, following a report in Kathimerini, and found that the six homes covered a total area of 265 square meters but had never received any official approval. The inspectors ordered construction work to stop immediately and handed down a 992,000-euro fine to the Pendeli Monastery, which owns the land on which the houses are being built. Lawyers acting on behalf of the historic monastery have appealed the decision and officials are set to look into the case in more detail in October. Locals who had pushed for the illegal construction to stop said they were pleased with the ruling. «We just hope that the town-planning office will not give in to outside pressure and reverse its decision,» Elena Rota, head of the Pendeli Cultural Group, told Kathimerini. The monastery’s archimandrite, Timotheos Kilifis, said he hopes that the fine will lead to the discovery of the people behind the construction of the homes. «I am saddened by the fine because the monastery will have to pay it and because it should be an example of honesty, straightforwardness and ecological awareness but facts prove otherwise,» he told Kathimerini. «In my opinion, it [the monastery] should not try and cover up its breach of the law but should uncover those responsible for leading it to this,» Kilifis said. The monastery had claimed that the homes were not new constructions but bird coops that were being modified so they could house female visitors to the inter-Orthodox center, which hold various religious events. Sources said there were also plans to build a 72-booth exhibition center over a 15-hectare area on a nearby site but this proposal was scrapped after it was made public and locals raised objections.

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