Mitzpe Ramon Master Plan

The new Master Plan for Mitzpe Ramon has been under development for more than a decade. Unfortunately, in its current form, it suffers from structural and programmatic errors that threaten to the strength and the social fabric of Mitzpe Ramon’s population at large.

2006 – Planning Kickoff

Mitzpe Ramon’s new master plan was launched in 2006, initiated by the Ministry of Construction and Housing. Initially, the planning authorities and the local council worked to promote the program without any public sharing or public consultation. The protest of Keshet activists in the face of this behavior led to a number of public sharing meetings by the developer and the planning team.

Master Plan Outline

The invitation to the first town hall meeting in 2014

Anticipating of the plan’s deposition during 2014-2015, Keshet recruited a team of experts from among the local community to conduct an in-depth study of the Master Plan. After careful analysis, Keshet’s experts consequently presented their conclusions, pointing out various shortcomings and problems.

Keshet also organized several meetings for Mitzpe Ramon residents to discuss the plan’s inadequacies.

First Conference Invitation Ad in 2014

The experts’ conclusions and the criticism offered by the public show the gross incompatibility between the Master Plan’s projections and the reality on the ground. On the one hand, the plan envisioned an increase in local employment – mainly low-income jobs in the hospitality industry – while on the other hand, its construction plans called for 1,300 single-family homes, at prices from $400,000 to $700,000.

Keshet presented its conclusions to the local planning committee and to the Mayor. Unfortunately, the Municipality declined to adopt Keshet’s formal objections or for that matter, join it in the submission of its objections to the Master Plan.

Keshet’s recommendations were:

  • To pace the development and the construction of the hotels and the hotel rooms according to the local community’s sustainability criteria. Alternatively, Keshet argued that the marketing of the hotels should be extended over a statutory period of 25 years.
  • The conversion of 500 single home units into small apartments.

Keshet also organized several meetings for Mitzpe Ramon residents to discuss the plan’s inadequacies.

An overview of the plan’s content as presented at the residents meeting

2018 – The Master Plan and the objections

The provisional master plan was deposited in February of 2018. Objections were submitted by governmental and commercial entities, predominantly on technical grounds. The Mitzpe Municipality and Keshet also submitted objections.

Keshet submitted objections regarding four matters:

  1. The plan projected 5,475 housing units for a population of 17,520, while at the same time the plan’s stated target population was set at 10,000. Therefore, the plan needed to be corrected to make the number of planned housing units compatible with the projected population growth, and with the Municipality’s financial resources and capabilities.
  2. The designated plots for the hotels and new neighborhoods need to be marketed and developed gradually, in accordance with the economic development, resources and social impact on Mitzpe Ramon’s community.
  3. The imperative to incorporate in the plan the guidelines for the prevention of light pollution, as mandated by the region’s designation as a Night Sky Reserve.
  4. Various amendments in the plan’s documentation.

Keshet’s also suggested reducing the planned number of housing units. The Municipality, on the other hand, submitted a request to raise the number of housing units in the projected Magshimim neighborhood, from 700 to 1400.

2019 – Hearing of the Objections

The Regional Planning Committee heard the parties’ objections shortly after the municipal elections in October 2018. After its deliberations, it published its interim findings on January 14, 2019.

The Regional Planning Committee agreed to accept the following amendments:

  1. The implementation of the plan would be subject to an on-going examination of the ecological and communal impact on the town. Progress would be implemented gradually, subject to the completion of earlier stages. New housing construction will be adjacent, as much as possible, to existing housing units.
  2. The two appendices pertaining to the area’s ecology and landscape, and to sustainability, shall be rewritten to reflect the correct information on each of these topics.
  3. Permits issued for the construction of new public buildings shall comply with Building Code 5281.
  4. The building plan for the hotels must include detailed solutions for housing the future employees in the hospitality sector.
  5. The plan shall reflect the optimal exploitation of the planned plots, including allocation of those sections that were deracinated for the construction of the project’s infrastructure.
  6. Approval of any communication installations will be subject to standard radiation studies.

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