From the kiosk to the restaurant: how land in park areas becomes a possession of private hands

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Restaurant “DiVino” is the most revealing example of how in Balti there is no control over buildings in historical places.

Киоск с террасой, из которого выросло нынешнее здание под аренду

The origins of the building: land sold or leased?

At the moment, the plot of land on which the “DiVino” restaurant stands is on lease. The first Lease Decision was signed on March 27, 2003 at the meeting Nr. 37 by the following persons:

  • 1. Egorov V. I. – Chairman of the meeting
  • 2. Derevenko L.V. – Secretary of the City Hall
  • 3. Panchuk V.T. – Former mayor of Balti.

Studying the lease agreement of the place: terms and price

Scan of the current lease agreement:

This is the current “Land Lease Agreement No. 876”, which is currently in force, and it is signed between the City Hall and a private individual whose name has not been disclosed.

On February 27, 2014 the lease agreement for this site in the “Andries” National Park was reissued to another private person in accordance with Decision of the Municipal Council No. 1/30. But, despite the fact of re-registration to another person, the agreement signed in 2011 is extended. Also, it is this Lease Agreement No. 876 of 2011, signed by the previous owner of the site, which appears in obtaining Construction Permit No. 63 of March 14,2014. The fact of renewal of the Lease Agreement is recorded in an official letter signed by Balti Mayor Renato Usatii:

Of course, the contract itself raises a lot of questions, as it was drawn up in 2011 for a period of 2 years. And where is a specific paragraph, which indicates the terms and years of the agreement. At the same time, the agreement itself contains frankly outdated information about the site, describing it as a “kiosk with a terrace”, although in reality there is already a two-story new building on the site, which is rented out as a restaurant.

The agreement has an important clause 3.6., which speaks about the conditions of agreement ending. It says that in case of expiration of the lease (as it was in November 2018), the “Lessee” returns the plot in that condition, suitable for intended use. Therefore, on November 27, 2018, at a meeting of the municipal council, there was an ideal opportunity to close the lease issue, and with it the building issue.

According to the Decision of the Municipal Council No. 14/36 of November 27, 2018 signed by the former mayor N. Grigorishin, the lease was extended for 5 years, that is, until September 2023. Copy of the lease renewal agreement:

That is, to make it as clear as possible, on November 27, 2018, the municipal council raised the issue of extending or refusing to rent a piece of land in a historical monument, which is Andries Park. Why the meeting of the municipal council of November 27, 2018 did not refuse to lease parkland, is the question that the residents of Balti should ask the authorities.

What is the benefit of the Balti authorities from leasing a land plot? As can be seen from the documents presented by the Balti Mayor’s Office, the private owner who currently owns the land on dubious grounds pays 209 lei per month or 2509 lei per year as a lease. Restaurant “DiVino” represented by S.R.L. CERVECERIA, registered on January 28, 2019 in the village of Sîngereii Noi, does not own the building, but only rent it. If we examine the average rental prices of commercial real estate in the center of Balti, especially in the park area, the minimum rental price in this place varies between 10-20 euro per sq. m. That is, the surrender of even one meter pays for the entire amount that the private owner pays for this plot to the Balti authorities.

In this case, the site itself has 111 sq. m., and the restaurant building was built on two floors. Given the peculiarity of the structure of the building, the private owner has a lease of at least 240 square meters, which, presumably, can be rented for 2-4 000 euro per month. Or, if you transfer to Moldovan Lei, 38-70,000 lei per month is the amount that can be obtained as a rental of similar real estate in this part of the city. You can earn 24-48,000 euro a year by renting municipal land, paying about 145 euro for renting it to the Balti budget according to the current exchange rate.

Legality of building: Town-planning certificate, authorization for construction

The beginning of any building is to obtain the Town Planning Certificate for Design. The town-planning certificate for design was received on January 16, 2014. Here is a copy of it:

The Town Planning Certificate for Planning was signed by the following officials of the Balti Mayoralty:

  • 1. Panchuk V. T. – Former mayor (O. Mahu signs the document for him)
  • 2. Mahu O. I.  – Vice Mayor
  • 3. Serdyuk I. M. – Secretary of the municipal council
  • 4. Koada V.M. – former head of the “Department of Architecture and Construction”, who worked in the Balti mayor’s office until mid-2019
  • 5. Bukataru I.- former head of the Department of Architecture and Construction of the City Hall.

According to the official response from the “Office of Architecture and Construction,” Balti Municipality, Building Permit No. 63 of April 14, 2014 was issued by the following employees of the City Hall:

  • 1. Panchuk V. T. – the former mayor of Balti;
  • 2. Mahu O. I. – Deputy of Balti mayor;
  • 3. Dovgan L. S. – about Secretary of municipal council.
  • 4. Koada V. M. – former head of the “Department of Architecture and Construction”

Now a little timeline:

January 16, 2014 – Urban planning certificate for design is issued

February 27, 2014 – assignment of the lease from one private person to another private person

April 14, 2014 – Construction Permit No. 63 is issued

Only here there is a nuance – who issued the Urban Planning Certificate for design? If the Lease Agreement was transferred to another private person, then by law, it could be issued to the owner of the Lease Agreement, which is no longer the Tenant of this section on February 27, 2014. Therefore, the legality of these documents is a big question, since the Town Planning Certificate, according to the chronology, was to be issued to one person, and Building Permit No. 63 was to be issued to another person.

Building permit No. 63 dated April 14, 2014 was issued for a period of one year, from which follows that all constructions on this site from the summer of 2015 until the end of 2018, which many citizens could see, was carried out in violation of the law. And for the private person who was building this building without documents, protocols should be drawn up.

Today we see in the historical “Andries” park or, as it is also called, the “Marinsky” park, a new building legitimized by the current government, and the administration of the mayor’s office, in particular vice-mayor G. Shmulsky, call this building “reconstruction of the object”:

According to LAW No. 163 dated September 7, 2010 “On Permission to Perform Construction Work”, there is a list of documents that are needed on the day the permit is received, including reconstruction in a historical place. Urban planning certificate for design No. 7 dated January 13, 2014, was issued without outline a project coordinated with the National Council for Historical Monuments under the Ministry of Culture. Such a draft design is mandatory when there is an intervention in the monuments of history, art and architecture or in the development zones included in the List of Monuments of the Republic of Moldova, protected by the state. Such a historical monument is the “Andries” Park:

Further, it should be noted that preliminary documents were issued for the reconstruction of the “kiosk with terrace” in the “Children’s Cafe”, and not at all in the restaurant, which sells alcoholic beverages in the public domain:

From the design documentation it can be seen that the initial construction project was planned as a one and a half floor building with a basement.

Despite the lack of a draft design agreed with the National Council on Historical Monuments under the Ministry of Culture, honorary workers of the City Hall willingly sign the approval of the “Children’s Cafe” project in “Andries” Park. Here is a document signed by the famous Balti architect, owner of the title “Honored Person” Boris Gritsunik:

Results of acquaintance with documents

Restaurant “DiVino” is the best example of the situation in which is now the Balti municipality. During two shifts of the city government, a restaurant with free sale of alcohol “DiVino” was built from a kiosk that sold soda water and ice cream. Although, according to the documents they planned, “Children’s cafe”.

There is no recognition of a violation of the law when issuing a building permit for this object from the current authorities of the Balti municipality. Even without construction documents, the private owner was “allowed” to complete the building; moreover, the current government legalized this building, recognizing in the official documents the fact of “reconstruction”, and not the fact of illegal construction.

In 2018, when the strange lease agreement of October 15, 2011 ended, the local authorities had every chance to refuse to extend the lease, return the park land to their property, and force the private owner to demolish the building, whose legality is in great doubt. However, this was not done, moreover, by unanimous decision the land was leased for another five years, renewing Agreement No. 876 of October 15, 2011, which was reissued to another person on February 27, 2014. Why is the agreement with the wording “The tenant uses the leased land for the existing kiosk with a terrace” still valid?

How legal is the lease agreement concluded in 2011 with one private person and which was reissued on February 27, 2014, but the tenant is already listed as the first owner of the land. Logically, a new tenant means a new contract. Maybe there is a desire to hide the name of this owner?

Does this institution have the right to be referred to as a “restaurant”? Indeed, such a wording can be seen by visitors to “DiVino” on the signboard of this establishment. However, in fact, this institution functions as a “bar”, respectively, pays several times less than local taxes.

The “DiVino” story shows that the laws, unfortunately, like the election promises of some politicians, do not work in the Balti municipality. None of the participants in the lease of the land, the issuance of a city-planning certificate and a building permit was punished.

Diana Grosu
Vitali Cozearschi

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