The right to decide for yourself how you’re gonna live with no external compulsion or interference is an important principle in modern societies. Lucky for us, we live in Aruba where we always expect to enjoy personal independence and freedom, and the authority over our lives and live-styles. Except in Malmok, where the government apparently, in some private internal meeting decided that this area would be perfect for the development of boutique hotels, operating restaurants and bars. But, and here’s the catch, they forgot to ask the neighbors for their opinions. Aren’t the neighbors who have been living in this lovely place for dozens of years entitled voice their opinion in the matter? How was the power of the people all of a sudden transferred to the government?

It’s a long story, but basically a new neighbor checked into the neighborhood and started building a very large “residence” on  L.G. Smith Blvd 526. I put it in parenthesis since the new comer aimed at building a hotel but was not transparent about it because she did not have the necessary permits. Three diligent volunteer neighbors then went to visit the land department, DOW & DIP, determined to find out what was happening but got the run around, basically they were told that the construction permit applied for was to build a new residence on that lot, and that that application was indeed granted for a residence in accordance with the purpose of the neighborhood. Then in early November, the neighbors first found out of the true nature of the construction when the property started advertising for Christmas parties and events, which resulted in the neighbors’ getting organized and taking the newcomer to court. The verdict of the court case is today, January 13th, expected at 8:20am. The judge froze all activities around the property until that time.

You should know that properties on the Malmok strip along the coast are long-leased land, residential, including the plot of L.G. Smith Blvd 526, just like the rest of the lots here. When .G. Smith Blvd 526, started advertising parties, installing a commercial gas tank, a mega trash bin and propping a huge exhaust on the roof it became clear that this “residence,” is no residence at all but a fully fledged hotel.  And that is when the neighborhood realized that L.G. Smith Blvd 526 had made a request to change the designation of the land. They were building, while applying for permits, with the reassurance that the MinInfra gave them a verbal permission, that’s it, a verbal permission, and his word apparently is the law, mi ta fix tur cos pa bo!

WHAT DO YOU THINK: Should their petition for a hotel and food & beverage facilities be accepted if the purpose of the zoning of the area is residential? This is particularly disturbing in light of the fact that a few years ago parliament designated large areas of the island for preservation and protection, including this exact strip in Malmok! The areas and its beaches were reserved for conservation, hang off, green zone here, by the parliament of Aruba.

Sure, over the years quite some residences have been converted into vacation rentals, tourists come and go, but the peaceful and calm nature of the neighborhood did not change, it remained an oasis of calm and recreation.

At the time in December the neighborhood was relieved when it heard that no hotel permit has been issued, and that the development relies on a verbal permission, yet over the holiday season on December 31st, Aruba’s Prime Minister visited the property and reportedly liked what he saw. I guess we all have to like what HE like, these days.

More to come…