On an island where the rush to develop modern structures completely devoid of any architectural elements that pay homage to Bali and its ancient heritage is in full throttle, some projects are so fundamentally shocking as to earn special disfavor in the misguided race to abandon Bali's natural beauty, its local traditions and established zoning laws.
Two such projects, now in various stages of development - C151 Dreamland (PT Hanno Bali) and Anantara Uluwatu threaten to irrevocably blemish the majestic limestone cliffs of Bali's southernmost peninsula.
Running desperately short of fresh water and electricity, Bali's officials have sporadically promised to put a freeze on new hotel projects. But these project which between them offer luxury restaurants, wedding chapel's shops and business centers manage to squeeze past any moratoriums, presenting themselves as "private apartments" that are curiously available at nightly rents of up to US$10,000.
Zoning rules that stipulate 100 meters setback from the high-water mark, or an equal vertical/horizontal combined set back distance, are apparently flagrantly ignored as shown in the accompanying illustrations prepared by the developers. Moreover, in the case, of the Anantara Uluwatu,
the artists' depiction suggests that the owners may once again be repeating their violation of the 15 meter height restriction done at their Anantara Seminyak
property.Who Speaks for the Land?
Sadly, it has been a long held tenet of Bali developers that if one intends to violate local building codes, do so quickly. At worst, officials will scold and make public admonishments but, in the end, will inevitably relent; allowing height, set back, building density and illegal use violations to be quietly set aside.
Caught violating the law and publicly feigning contrition, developers seek mitigation - claiming simple misunderstanding or, alternatively, some level of official approval or local community support for their illegal structure. And, if all else fails, the incredulous developers employ the ingenuity of the young man charged with patricide who boldly pleas for mercy before the court because he is, after all, an orphan. Playing a similar card - Bali developers implore for leniency, citing the potential loss of employment or potential discomfort to visitors should the long-established rules be actually enforced.
While it may initially seem a painful remedy, the only real solution to the current madness is for the government to be uncompromising and offer no quarter, demanding that projects without permits or in violation of established zoning laws be leveled. Once done, future projects would see the cost of playing "cat and mouse" with local officials as too dear to even contemplate. At the same time, the "no exit" approach for violators would eliminate any incentive for collusion with oftentimes overly-pliant licensing officials.
The accompany pictures of the Anantara Uluwatu
and C151 Dreamland
speak louder than any further words we can offer. Hopefully, our hard-working Governor and those who support his efforts to protect Bali are listening and will do whatever they can to preserve, protect and restore the pristine beauty of the island's southern coastal cliff.
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