Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

14 Tammuz 5768 - July 17, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Modi'in Illit Mayor Signs Construction Permits for Nachalat Heftziba Neighborhood

By M. Green

Nachalat Heftziba residents and apartment buyers were pleased to hear that the building permit was signed this week by Modi'in Illit Mayor Rabbi Yaakov Gutterman.

Both the apartment purchasers and other residents have been suffering for two years as a result of a High Court petition filed by radical organization Peace Now, which led to a court order to freeze construction and not occupy the apartments. The trials and tribulations reached their peak when the construction company folded — for reasons unrelated to the litigation — leaving the project completely stalled.

When the problems first started to emerge, a buyers' committee was formed, headed by the moro d'asro HaRav Meir Kessler, HaRav Y. Silman, HaRav A. Dvir and HaRav A. Mittelman. The committee represented all of the buyers in the High Court case and pursued other legal channels until eventually obtaining the decision to permit construction to continue. But the ruling was too little, too late since it came a few weeks after Heftziba came crashing down last year in Av.

Following the company's collapse the buyers' committee launched intensive negotiations with Solel Boneh, which was a partner in part of the project, and with Bank Yerushalayim, which accompanied part of the project. Long months of talks eventually brought an agreement drafted by the committee's legal advisor, R' Avrohom Gronich, which should allow the companies to complete building the neighborhood and registering the apartments under the rightful owners' names. The main points of the agreement are a commitment by Solel Boneh and Bank Yerushalayim to complete the apartments, general neighborhood development and listing rights, while the buyers have pledged to transfer the balance of payment for their apartments to the official receiver, along with an extra $25,000 each to cover the enormous debts left behind by Heftziba CEO Boaz Yonah, while the two companies will shoulder the brunt of the debt.

During a large meeting held at the end of Shevat, the rabbonim serving on the committee called on the apartment buyers to join the agreement, which almost all 315 purchasers eventually signed. The agreement won praise from the judge and special manager Atty. Molcho, who called it very successful and hailed it as an example for other Heftziba projects.

In addition to the financial aspects of the agreement the committee constantly worked to draw new plans for the neighborhood because during the High Court petition some slight flaws were found in the original Taba (land registry) plans, so the court ordered the Taba approval process and the construction permits to be redone from scratch. Highly time- consuming work had to be done by various entities involved in the case, especially the Engineering Department, which is headed by City Engineer Sarit Zolstein. After all of the problems that had already been encountered nobody dared take chances by cutting corners, so every detail had to be carried out without compromise. Every plan goes through seven separate checks by qualified officials before being inspected by the Civil Administration, which is in charge of approving fundamental aspects of the city building plan.

This week the project entered the phase of renewed construction when the Mayor signed the new construction permits given for all of the buildings in the project, without exception, and now dozens of Solel Boneh workers are already busy at the construction site.

Rabbi Wallenstein, one of the heads of the neighborhood committee, expressed his deep gratitude toward the Mayor for his concerted efforts along with hopes the neighborhood quickly reaches completion. So far Nachalat Heftziba has been the first Heftziba project to emerge from the morass of legal and financial difficulties in the wake of the company's bankruptcy.


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