SAN JUAN, March 17 (AP) — A Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruling has stymied hundreds of thousands of business and construction permits issued by the U.S. territory that have struggled to attract investors amid the economic crisis.
On Thursday, government officials sought to allay concerns about the fallout of the ruling, which upheld an appeals court ruling that invalidated documents regulating land use and the issuance of permits on the island from 2020.
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The ruling, released Wednesday, prompted the government to take the unprecedented step of temporarily suspending access to websites where people apply for permits. While access was restored on Thursday, there is still confusion as people start to question whether they are allowed to operate the new businesses they opened, keep the new decks they built or start from scratch and get new permits if they are in hospital construction or other buildings.
“This puts our weak economy at risk,” said Luis Vegaramos, general secretary of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party.
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On Thursday, Economic Development and Commerce Minister Manuel Sidre issued a statement saying people could continue to apply for permits as usual, noting that the document, which was annulled by the island’s Supreme Court, would remain in effect “until all legal remedies are available.” Measures have been implemented” exhausted. “
Environmental lawyer Verónica González confirmed that the current land use plan will remain in effect until the Supreme Court makes a final decision, adding that the government has two opportunities to appeal. However, she noted that given the ruling, anyone can now go to court to claim that a permit issued for a certain business or construction project was illegal.
“Uncertainty always creates problems,” she said.
Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said Thursday he will ask the island’s Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.
The situation led officials to announce the resignation of María Cintrón, assistant secretary of the Office of Licensing Management under the Cidre department.
On Wednesday, Cintrón announced she was suspending the permit application website out of an abundance of caution and to protect the transparency and certainty of the process, saying: “We recognize this is a complex issue that cannot be taken lightly.”
Gabriel Rodríguez, a former president of the Puerto Rico Planning Association, blamed the current situation on the recent administration, which he said was pursuing a public policy to promote economic development and to protect certain areas. Simplify the permitting process on top of the historic land use plan. , environmental or agronomic reasons.
Pierre Louise said his government had been working on a new regulation based on public comment: “My government will always ensure that we have a regulatory framework in place that allows and facilitates the socio-economic development we all want.”
This is the third time Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court has declared invalid the document that currently governs land use and licensing on the island.
“It has become a mission impossible,” Gonzalez, the attorney, said of the government’s insistence on using the land-use plan. “This is the third blow.” (AP)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)