City grants permit to SM-Ayala

THE SM-Ayala Consortium can now begin work on its property at the South Road Properties (SRP) after the Cebu City Council granted its land development permit Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

But Vice Mayor Michael Rama, as Council presiding officer, had to break a tie during the voting as eight councilors said yes and another eight said no to the permit application of the consortium. Rama voted in favor of granting the permit.

SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Ayala Land Inc. may now start work on the drainage system, roads and other horizontal development on its 26-hectare property which they bought from the City in 2015 when Rama was mayor.

But the Council still wants to meet the consortium officials to let them face questions from them and the public in a forum called the “Citizens’ Hour.” The date for the forum is yet to be set.

The Council passed a resolution of Councilor Phillip Zafra that sought to approve the land development permit application of the consortium as per recommendation of the Cebu City Zoning Board.

The zoning board approved the land development permit on Aug. 20, 2019. The resolution was first brought to the Council last Oct. 22 but was not approved as the Council wanted to have additional details, including the consortium agreement.

In last Tuesday’s regular session, a copy of the consortium agreement was given to Council members.

Councilors Joy Young and Eugenio Gabuya Jr. of the opposition pointed out that the submitted agreement was not notarized. “Looking at it, mura bitaw’g nanginsulto. Tan-aw sa SM ug Ayala nga bogo na kay ta. Tan-awa ra gud ni, is this a real consortium agreement? Pila lang ka-pages. This is very unlike SM and Ayala... di ta ni dawaton, Mr. Chairman,” Young said. (This is like an insult. SM and Ayala might think we are dumb to accept this. Just a few pages. It is unlike them. Let’s not accept this.)

Gabuya then moved to ask the consortium to provide the Council with a notarized agreement.

Zafra said he could not see a reason not to approve the application as the two parties agreed to enter into the agreement and affix their signatures on the document.

Councilor Antonio Cuenco moved to vote on the permit application.

With two councilors absent and one outside the hall during the voting, the Council decided for the approval with eight votes and for its disapproval by eight votes of the minority. Those who opposed were Councilors Young, Gabuya, Nestor Archival, Franklyn Ong, Alvin Dizon, Raul Alcoseba, Jessica Resch and Lea Japson.

As part of government procedure, big projects set to be developed in the City need the approval of the City Council.

Mayor Edgardo Labella welcomed the Council action, saying the project would generate jobs.

SRP manager Jose Daluz III said the volume of trucks will increase in the SRP with the approval of the consortium’s land development permit. Work should start soon as per the permit the consortium applied for are all for the preparation of the lot for the future civil works.

With other developments in the SRP coming, the volume of traffic will increase. Thus, the Cebu City Government created a technical working group to oversee traffic plans in the area. The technical working group is composed of representatives of SM-Ayala Consortium, Bus Rapid Transit, Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc. and the Talisay City Government.

Daluz said the City has realized that the different developments in the SRP should have their respective traffic plans through the technical working group.

He said they will hire traffic consultants to address SRP road congestion, including the infrastructure needed to ease traffic.

He said the Department of Public Works and Highways has proposed roundabouts and skyways to address anticipated traffic problems. He said those are proposals and the City will seek an expert or a traffic consultant.

Daluz said he will ask Labella to seek funding from the National Government for these traffic projects. (JJL)