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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Bialystok. Neighborly dispute over the parking lot at Bema

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Białystok, Bema 91 and 93. Two blocks of flats with a vast lawn between them, which is hotly disputed. Residents of the first of these communities do not agree to the construction of the parking lot, which representatives of the latter want. They were the first to send a protest to the city authorities with 170 signatures. Others emphasize that the local plan allows for parking. In the background, there is still a dispute over the garbage can. Local politicians are also involved.

“It is reasonable to analyze the situation and propose solutions to the residents that will take into account their separate and often conflicting interests and demands. I am asking for immediate action in this regard” – wrote in an interpellation to the Białystok authorities, Katarzyna Bagan-Kurluta, city councilor of the Civic Coalition, chairwoman of the spatial development and environmental protection.

The chairman also asked PIS in the city council of Henryk Dębowski. “Due to the disapproval and concern of the residents (…) I would like to ask you to withdraw from the implementation of the investment in the face of the residents’ declared opposition,” he wrote.

The residents of Bema 93 claim that the car park is to be built in the belt between the trees Tomasz Mikulicz

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Parking for 35 cars, 170 signatures under the objection

It is about a dispute between the communities of two neighboring blocks of flats – 91 and 93 at Bema Street in Białystok. A green area is located between the buildings, where the latter community wants to build a car park with a barrier for 35 cars (including two for people with disabilities). The inhabitants of the block at Bema 91, who collected 170 signatures under a protest sent to the city authorities, do not agree to this.

“We are asking the president to keep the area as it is. We want to create a recreational place for our children and the elderly. We don’t want more fumes under our balconies, we don’t want poisoning – Teresa Szewko from Bema 91 tells us.

He adds that if the investment comes to fruition, its block will be surrounded by cars from four sides. – In front of our staircases, a public car park has been created from the civic budget. Cars are also parked from the side of both side walls (one of them, at Bema 97, has a parking lot with a barrier – red). We want to have green at least from the balconies – he argues.

A parking lot with a barrier had already been built in front of the Bema 97 block Tomasz Mikulicz

Parking 15 meters from the neighbors

The neighboring community, however, does not intend to withdraw from the investment. In July last year, it leased a plot of land from the city and is at the last stage of formalities related to obtaining a building permit. The location of car parks in this place is allowed by the local plan in force from 2021.

– We leased a plot of land that extends from our cages to five meters from the wall of the neighboring block. However, the car parks will be 15 meters away from them. This is more than the legal minimum, which is 10 meters, calculates Piotr Bukrewicz from the block at Bema 93.

Piotr Bukrewicz from Bema 93: the car park will be located 15 meters from the block at Bema 91 Tomasz Mikulicz

When asked why the car park will be located not right in front of the investor’s staircases – i.e. the Bema 93 community – but 15 meters from the neighboring block, he claims that it cannot be otherwise.

– There are trees growing next to our cages that we cannot cut down. So there is no parking available here. Trees also grow from the balconies of the block at Bema 91, and it is precisely because of these trees and environmental protection that the parking lot will be built 15 meters from the neighbors’ wall, emphasizes Bukrewicz.

The car park is to be built from the balconies of the block at Bema 91 (on the right side of the photo). It’s supposed to reach the tree on the left Tomasz Mikulicz

Parking on the outskirts of the estate?

Teresa Szewko from Bema 91 doubts that the trees will be preserved. “Not so long ago, a thick tree growing next to a block of flats was cut down,” he recalls.

Piotr Bukrewicz from Bema 93 claims that the tree had to be cut down because it was sick and threatened the safety of passers-by. “We’re not cutting down any trees.” Not only that, as part of the investment, we will plant seven new ones from the neighbors’ side. To help them, we will put the lanterns planned here in such places that they will not shine in their windows – he assures.

Residents of the block at Bema 93 show the design of the parking lot. There is space for 35 carsTomasz Mikulicz

The community from Bema 91 has a grudge against the city that the land was leased to the neighbors without asking them for their opinion. – We also did not know that in 2021 a local plan was adopted, which covers this area and provides for the location of car parks in this place. The pandemic was still going on. They were all “locked up”. We are surprised that this plan could be adopted in such a period. We believe that the councilors, voting on-line, did not know what this area looks like – supposes Teresa Szewko.

He admits that yes, there are no parking lots in the estate, but he believes that creating more than 30 spaces here – and only for residents of one block – will not solve the problem.

– The city should build a large multi-storey car park. The best place would be the area on the outskirts of the estate from the side of Pogodnia Street. We could support the investment financially and then pay for the passes to be able to park there. Building parking lots in green areas between blocks of flats is really not a good idea for the development of the city, and the mayor has declared many times that he is in favor of nature conservation, enlarging green areas, development of biodiversity and clean air, points out Teresa Szewko.

City: We have no grounds to refuse a building permit

Agnieszka Zabrocka, deputy spokeswoman for the mayor of Bialystok, says that for the time being the city is not planning to build a multi-storey car park in this part of the city.

– However, when it comes to the local plan, its project covered such a vast area and so many comments were made that it was – and even before the pandemic – widely commented on in the local media. Anyone can contribute to the project, he says.

A large parking lot is located between the block of flats at Bema 91 (on the left side of the photo) and Bema 93 (on the right side) Tomasz Mikulicz

Why didn’t the city inform the neighbors that it had leased the land to a neighboring community? Zabrocka says there is no such obligation.

– As far as the whole situation is concerned, we are bound by the law. We cannot act against the provisions of the local plan. Since it allows the construction of car parks, we have no grounds to refuse a building permit. Even if the residents would apply for a change in the local plan and the procedure would start, it does not stop the investment – explains the representative of the city authorities.

They also argue about the garbage shed

The dispute between the communities is also about the garbage shed. This one was built in April by the residents of the block at Bema 93 and stands close to the neighbors’ balconies.

The shelter was placed closer to the block at Bema 91 than to the center of the plot Tomasz Mikulicz

Anna Cholewska from the block at Bema 91 (she claims to have lived there for 50 years) says that the first shelter, which was built here many years ago, was located more or less in the middle of the area separating the two blocks.

Anna Cholewska from Bema 91: the containers were gradually moved closer to us.  There is a light here now

Anna Cholewska from Bema 91: the containers were gradually moved closer to us. There is a light here nowTomasz Mikulicz

– When it was dismantled, the containers stood without any roofing. They were also gradually moved closer to us, and now the neighbors have put a shelter next to our balconies. Also, we can’t use it. We have to carry waste to a place on the other side of our block. It’s a bit of a road, and many residents have problems with mobility – he says.

They claim that the shelter had to be built there, because trees grow in other places

Małgorzata Czekaewska, a resident of the block at Bema 93, notes that the containers for various types of waste have so far stood even a little closer to the neighboring block than the shelter is currently located.

– Closer to the center of the area separating the two blocks, the container stood some 10-12 years ago (before the so-called garbage revolution, which introduced segregation and the need to place several containers – ed.). The containers were moved to this part (closer to Bema 91) due to waste segregation – he says.

According to the google map, in 2019 the waste containers were located at the Bema 91 block Google Maps

The photo from Google Maps from 2019 shows that in a place closer to Bema 93 there was a large container (probably ordered by someone for renovation waste, because after 2013 such containers for municipal waste were no longer placed), and the containers for municipal waste were closer Bema 91.

Małgorzata Dobrzeewska from Bema 93: the containers were moved closer to the block at Bema 91 due to waste segregation

Małgorzata Dobrzeewska from Bema 93: the containers were moved closer to the block at Bema 91 due to waste segregation Tomasz Mikulicz

The residents of Bema 93, when asked why the shelter was built closer to the neighboring block, and not closer to the center of the plot, say that there was no other way. – If it were closer to the center, there would be no way to enter the planned car park, because only here there are no trees – says Piotr Bukrewicz.

The joint venture failed

Why can’t the neighbors use the shed? Bukrewicz associates this with the fact that last year the residents of the block at Bema 93 proposed to the neighbors to build a shed together and use it together, and they did not want to contribute.

– The proposal was made long before Christmas, and before Easter we still had no answer. Therefore, the shelter was built with our money, so – obviously – only we can use it – adds Bukrewicz.

Read also: “Let me build a house on this land that I have.” Kazik sings about… the zoning plan

Teresa Szewko replies that the neighbors put the community from Bema 91 in front of a fait accompli. – They informed that they are building a shed and we have to contribute to it. We were not presented with a full cost estimate of the investment. So we waited for an answer. We couldn’t wait,” he explains.

Ewa Borowik from the Posesja company, which is the administrator of the block at Bema 93, maintains that on December 5, 2022, she sent a letter to the administrator of the community at Bema 91 with a detailed cost estimate. – Nothing has been written back to us. Later, in a telephone conversation with a representative of the community at Bema 91, I found out that the local residents still have not decided whether they want to contribute to the construction of the shed or not. It was April, and we sent the first inquiry as to whether they would contribute in October. We couldn’t wait forever.

Main photo source: Tomasz Mikulicz

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