Ramot Expansion Planners Hear Critics

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Ramot neighborhood in Yerushalayim. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)
The Ramot neighborhood in Yerushalayim. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

Plans for the expansion of Yerushalayim’s Ramot neighborhood met with stern opposition at a city hearing on Tuesday, possibly signaling the plan’s demise.

At issue is the environmental impact on the protected woodland of nearby Mitzpeh Neftoah and the cost of housing in the capital.

“Everyone says this is a big mistake,” Deputy Mayor Tamir Nir told a municipal panel, after acknowledging the city’s “debt” to residents to improve existing neighborhoods.

“Continuity depends on environment, community and finance. Regarding these three factors, this plan is almost completely unsuccessful,” he declared.

In November, the National Planning and Building Committee’s Plan 1012 was approved for construction of 1,400 housing units on a 10-acre hilltop. Expansion of Ramot was sold as a way to help reduce the cost of living in the city.

But on Tuesday, the reception to a presentation by the architectural planning team, led by Ari Cohen, was not at all approving. On the contrary, there appeared to be broad agreement that the plan will harm the Mitzpeh Neftoah hill, which overlooks Emek Ha’arazim (Cedar Valley), and with no positive impact on the price of housing.

The municipality’s chief engineer, Shlomo Eshkol, also criticized the plan for deviating from the guidelines of the city’s urban renewal plan, which focuses on upgrading the downtown area and areas served by the light rail.

Eshkol told the planning representatives that since the new project would not be close to existing or future light rail lines, it was “completely nonessential.”

“We need to focus our power where we can make an impact — not on urban sprawl,” Eshkol said.