MINAE and Land Development in Costa Rica
The Ministry of the Environment and Energy as a Factor in Land Development
MINAE, as the Ministry is referred to in Costa Rica, plays an important role in the technical assessment and permitting of land development in Costa Rica. This includes such matters as forestry restrictions with respect to tree cutting, potable water rights, and matters regarding black water disposal, in conjunction with the requirements of the Ministry of Health.
Prior to seeking Municipal Building Permits from the applicable Municipality, larger urbanized land developments will most likely be subject to the scrutiny of the technical land development advisory committee of MINAE, known as SETENA. This is always the case if the development is to be a Condominium and can involve any urban development at the behest of the applicable Municipal Authorities. This technical process is very involved and ordinarily takes one to two years to complete.
A specific assessment of the property must be undertaken from an engineering aspect, analyzing soil samples to determine construction stability, identifying protected tree species, locating any potable water sources on the property and delineating set-back requirements from the water sources for any development to take place. In the case of a Condominium development, a black water treatment plant is a requirement and may also be a requirement in other forms of urban development, depending upon soil percolation rates for septic tank disposal methods being employed, or meeting any specific requirements that the Municipality may impose for the issuance of Building Permits.
The required satisfaction by SETENA for any land development proposal, is a very expensive process to be undertaken by any land developer, with no guarantee that it will be successful in the final analysis. Accordingly, a developer must be willing to assume these costs at their own risk at the out-set of any land development proposal.
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