Full Court Ratifies Ruling in Favor of the Ecological Zone of El Charco de Ingenio

News Release,  June 1, 2021 -- Today, the Plenary of the Administrative Justice Tribunal of the State of Guanajuato, composed of the judges of the five chambers that compose it, confirmed the sentence issued in November 2020 by the head judge of the First Chamber in favor of the Citizen Observatory of the Sanmiguelenses AC, forcing the municipal government to respect the integrity and land uses of the Ecological Preservation Zone El Charco del Ingenio and Surrounding Areas. This important 392-hectare nature reserve, officially declared by the municipality and in effect since 2006, includes areas of great environmental, scenic and historical value, such as the Obraje and Charco del Ingenio ravines, the Botanical Garden, Landeta Park, several sections of Bicentennial Park, and wetlands with abundant wildlife.

As has been in the public domain, the lawsuit filed by the Citizen Observatory requested the nullity of the 2017 City Council agreement, headed by Ricardo Villarreal, which irregularly attempted to reduce the polygon of the Ecological Preservation Zone and modify the land uses established in its Declaration, with the apparent purpose of favoring various real estate businesses.

In November 2020, the Court ruled in favor of the Citizen Observatory, ordering the municipal authority to respect unrestrictedly the declaration of the preservation zone, as well as its configuration in a single UGAT (Environmental Management Unit of the Territory). The Court also ordered the City Council to modify the Municipal Program for Urban Development and Ecological Land Use Planning (PMDUOET 20-40), in order to avoid changes in land use that would threaten the integrity of the ecological zone, which was intended to be done by segmenting its surface into three new UGATs, allowing "urban human settlements" in its conservation zones. In view of the municipal authority's failure to comply with the court order, the magistrate issued a warning, imposing a fine for contempt of court to all the members of the City Council, thus achieving the ordered modifications to the PMDUOET and its publication in the Official State Gazette.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the municipal authority decided to challenge the judgment issued by the judge of the First Chamber before the Plenary of the Court, which unanimously resolved to confirm the judgment in all its terms.

The recent decision of the State Court of Administrative Justice unequivocally consecrates the territorial integrity of the Ecological Preservation Zone El Charco del Ingenio and Surrounding Areas, preventing urban expansion and destruction of its territory. It also confirms the growing awareness among the judges of the enormous importance of natural spaces in the integral and sustainable development of society.

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