İZMİR - The scenic nature along cable car routes in the Aegean city of İzmir faces destruction following a decision by the Culture and Tourism Ministry that grants partial residential zoning status to the area.
The district municipalities of Balçova and Narlıdere in İzmir are in support of the plan and ministry decision but İzmir Metropolitan Municipality has voiced concern. The İzmir Chamber of Architects has said it will take the matter to court claiming the plan would be an environmental massacre for an area renowned for its pine and olive trees and thermal springs.
The ministry’s plan for the area was prepared with the knowledge of the municipalities of Balçova and Narlıdere and announced in April in a manner that took İzmir Metropolitan Municipality by complete surprise.
The ministry’s zoning plan included changes along the cable car route on Sakarya Street, the route going to the dam and the route leading to the Princess Hotel in Narlıdere.
The plan was drawn up with health tourism in mind, and is based upon plans for buildings that were constructed in the forest area along the cable car routes a year after the military coup in 1980. That project became known as "the rotten tooth" among some İzmir residents.
The İzmir Chamber of Architects responded with a report that reads: "The aim should be to demolish the old buildings to make way for new forest in the area, but instead a very large area around those buildings has been given a residential zoning status. A true massacre of nature and environment will ensue." Hasan Topal, president of the architects’ chamber, said they objected to the plan in accordance with established procedures but they have not received a response and will now embark on action via legal means.
Narlıdere Mayor Abdül Batur said the plan was drawn up after consulting the municipalities. "The part covering the district of Narlıdere is small. We thought a parcel across from the Princess Hotel, about 150 meters to the inside, could be used for health tourism. It will affect Balçova actually, whether it is negatively or positively."
Balçova Mayor Mehmet Ali Çalkaya said there is no forest area along the cable car route within the scope of the plan, while accepting the zone is woodland. "There are privately registered lands. The plan covers the area spanning 50 meters inward. It is a thin line. The zoning area is limited. It is for tourist purposes. Where were the chambers when building was occurring in other parts of the city? I am more sensitive than anyone on the matter of green spaces."