Goodbye Beautiful View: Partner of Infamous Construction Company Pours New Concrete on Bulgarian Black Sea Coast

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New construction has started just meters from the shore in the Bulgarian Black Sea village of Sinemorets, very close to the remarkable rock formations “Korabite” (The Ships). The concrete has already been poured and a holiday home will be erected, for which the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters (RIEW)-Burgas has given a positive opinion. This will not be the first building to be wedged into the unique pristine landscape near Sinemorets. The problem, however, is that there is no operating Territorial Master Plan (OUP), while there are effective orders issued by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works (MRDPW) and the Ministry of Environment and Waters (MEW) that prohibit any construction in the Strandja Park in Strandja Mountain.

A local resident uploaded photos and a video of the poured concrete on Facebook. It is evident that there is no mandatory sign indicating the type of the site, the investor, the construction company and the corresponding building permits.

Of all the regulated properties in the area, only two Environment Impact Assessments (EIAs) are available. The EIAs are mandatory for investment proposals in Natura 2000 and the two Strandja Protected Areas – for the protection of natural habitats and for the protection of birds. These are the properties with cadastral numbers 66528.2.262 and 66528.2.263.

We used the data from the “Parva Liniya” (Waterfront) project to determine the ownership of the terrain. “Parva Liniya” was created last year with donations from Bivol’s supporters with the purpose to reveal who had benefited from the new (still not approved and passed) OUP of the coastal town of Tsarevo. Unsurprisingly, the property in the village of Rezovo of lawmaker Yordan Tsonev from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), the party largely representing the Muslim minority, turned out to be within the construction boundaries.

“Parva Liniya” now allows monitoring the properties along the coast in Strandja Park. It clearly shows that the new concrete is poured on property 66528.2.262, which is owned by architect Dobromir Dobrev.

At the end of 2016, RIEW-Burgas had issued a positive opinion on Dobrev’s investment proposal “Construction of a Holiday Home in Plot Number 66528.2.262, in the Sinemorets village, Tzarevo Municipality”. RIEW-Burgas only recently (in September 2019) approved an EIA for the neighboring property with number 66528.2.263. Two residential buildings will be built there.

Nothing of this should happen until the new OUP of Tsarevo is adopted, but it is a fact, despite the ban orders by two ministries. Apparently, the pressure from the owners of the lucrative waterfront properties is working, and despite the bans, the Detailed Territorial Plans (PUPs) are being approved by the piece under unclear criteria.

Partner of Arteks

Dobromir Dobrev is a member of the Chamber of Architects at the Regional College in the capital Sofia and is the author of several projects in the capital. Among them is “Family South Park”, which is touted as a “green project”, designed to “bring homes closer to nature.” The investor in this site is Nova City Group. Architect Dobrev is the manager of several companies in the Nova City group – Nova City Group, Nova City Lux and Nova City Residence, among others. The owners are Israeli citizens.

Arteks Engineering has been tasked with the construction. In 2015, Dobrev and the owner of Arteks architect Plamen Miryanov inaugurated “Family South Park” together. Arteks is at the core of the ApartmentGate scandal exposing senior politicians for having purchased luxury properties at prices far below the market ones. The scandals also revealed that religious symbolism is very important for Arteks. “Family South Park” is no exception.

After the issuance of the permit for the use of the buildings, effectively putting Dobrev’s and Miryanov’s project into operation, it has been consecrated with a great blessing of the waters.

The connection between Miryanov’s company (Arteks) and the Nova City investors is not a fleeting one. In addition to “Family South Park”, Arteks is also the contractor of other projects of the investment group, according to the specialized site for architecture and construction “Citybuild”, which reported the opening ceremony.

In violation of two ministerial bans

Environmentalist Toma Belev commented on Facebook that the law requires that the structure of the properties meets the OUP requirements, while the municipality of Tzarevo does not have one in place. He stresses that there are orders to suspend a previous OUP that has been adopted without an environmental assessment. The MEW and the MRDPW have issued the two special orders to suspend the operation of the Tsarevo OUP. “Nevertheless, concrete is poured into protected territory with the assistance of RIEW Burgas and the Directorate for National Construction Control,” concludes Toma Belev.

So far, there is no public information on the building permit, which the Municipality of Tsarevo should issue. Our reporter tried to contact architect Dobromir Dobrev via the phone number listed for contact, but he did not answer. With or without a permit, the footage from the pouring of the concrete is persuasive – “bringing the home closer to nature” is in the process of happening for Dobrev in one of the most attractive locations on the Bulgarian coast.

Rulers and opposition play the same game

It appears that there has been a “green light” for the processes of burying in concrete the last remaining pristine places on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast within the Strandja Nature Park. The result can be easily foretold by observing what has happened to the north, around the town of Sozopol, where the entire coastline is built up, parceled and pompous, luxury villas surrounded with concrete fences block the free access to the former pristine beaches. The view is hideous and the natural beauty could never be restored. Years ago, the former Mayor of Tsarevo Petko Arnaudov of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) legitimized on the base of forged documents the construction of the “Golden Pearl” vacation village, owned by the former Vice President of Multigroup Nikolay Valkanov. Due to the “Golden Pearl” fraud and the building appetites of oligarchs, Petko Arnaudov even managed to abolish the existence of the Strandja Nature Park through the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC). This gave birth to the first mass civil protests and occupations, which became known as the “Eagle Bridge Rallies”, after the name of the key junction in the capital Sofia where they were held. The nationwide protest against the elimination of Strandja Park also dealt one of the heaviest blows to the Triple Coalition government and forced Parliament to repeal with a special act and a legal amendment to the SAC rule. After nearly ten years of lawsuits, journalistic and civil actions to expose the criminal scheme for construction in Strandja Park, the case gained international scandalous prominence when it became the subject of coverage in world-renowned media. Finally, “Golden Pearl” was declared illegal, demolished and wiped out, but the damage to the coast is visible and indelible to this day.

The current Mayor of Tsarevo Georgi Lapchev of the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) is closely following in the footsteps of his predecessor Arnaudov when it comes to construction on the coastline of the Strandja Nature Park. At the same time, the RIEW-Burgas has further allowed waterfront construction in the “Gradina” camping ground, south of the town of Chernomorets. Laws, European directives and unique natural wealth have no bearing on personal, private interests of individuals close to all of the big political parties in Bulgaria, who have seized off most of the coastal lands. Bivol exposed this proven criminal scheme in its investigations several years ago (see here and here).

Our editorial office will continue to monitor the case and seek the opinion of all parties and institutions that must exercise oversight for compliance with the restrictive regimes in the Strandja Nature Park.


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