The developer of the multi-billion peso Ciudad development in barangay Apas, Cebu City is being questioned by environment officials on its previous assurance that no trees will be cut to give way for the project.
In a letter addressed to Fifth Avenue Property Development Corp., the Environmental Bureau Management Bureau (EMB) cited that about 2.4 hectares of the Ciudad development will be cleared to give way for basement parking.
“As shown in the plans, the whole area is going to be made as Ciudad’s basement parking. Where will the tree planting be done if almost all trees will be cut or transported?,” said a Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) committee report on the project.
Copies of the committee report were sent by the office of Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district to local media yesterday.
The congressman is opposing the project, claiming that it will aggravate the existing traffic congestion there.
Fifth Avenue said it will submit its reply to the EIA report sometime today.
In its statement issued to local media, the company said it continues to maintain its transparency to the public in implementing the project.
The EMB said it will return Fifth Avenue Development’s application for the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) pending its reply to the points raised by their EIA committee report.
Ciudad is a joint development project of the Capitol and Fifth Avenue Property Development Corp. to be located in Barangay Apas, Cebu City.
The cutting of trees was one of several key complaints raised by Osmeña and the City Council during a public hearing on the project in barangay Apas last Dec. 2, 2011.
In a letter sent by EMB-7 Regional Director Fernando Quililan to Fifth Avenue Executive Vice President Mchael Lloyd Dino, the committee noted that the company assured that they will preserve the trees lining up Gov. Cuenco Avenue.
The EIA committee cited the developer’s assurance that any affected trees “will be balled and replanted” especially the mahogany trees that lined up Cuenco Avenue.
“In the event that a tree will be cut, a tree cutting permit will be secured from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)” the committee report stated.
The EMB-7 told Fifth Avenue to clarify their statement in order to “address” questions posed by Osmeña and oppositors of the project and remove suspicions that their office is “conspiring with the company” in so far as how the trees will be dealt with are concerned.
The City Council earlier asked the DENR to verify reports about the alleged massive cutting of trees along with the absence of a sewage treatment plant in the Ciudad project site.
Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young said DENR should furnish the council with an inventory of trees planted at the Cuidad project site and its exact location.
In a press statement, Dino said they’re not deceiving the public with their assurance that no trees will be cut for the project.
He said they will preserve tree species as specified under the law.
Any affected trees, he said, will be replanted or earth-balled in compliance with existing legal requirements.
He said the EIA study was intended to provide reference on how they would deal with the trees as they implement the project.
Jonji Gonzales, spokesperson of Fifth Ave., earlier said the old trees like the balete and mahogany, will be preserved as these add aesthetic value to the Old Cebu concept of the project.
Gonzales also said some young trees may have to be cut down or earth-balled to another location like what was done in Plaza Independencia during its rehabilitation.
Young alleged that the DENR was being “pressured” to issue a permit to Fifth Avenue.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who supports the project, said there are ways to preserve the trees without suspending the Ciudad development.
He said the council should not use their arguments to prevent development in the city which would result to employment generation and economic growth.
“We cannot stop development because of the plants,” he said.
The mayor said the DENR knows of ways to make sure that the trees at the Cuidad development site would not be cut down. /Correspondent Jessa Chrisna Marie J. Agua with Chief of Reporters Doris C. Bongcac