Residents of Santa Lucija protest against ‘monstrous’ development

Residents of Santa Lucija are rising in droves against a bid for a five-story “monstrosity” of a development in the heart of the town.

The highly controversial request – for 36 apartments, five maisonettes, seven penthouses and 75 garages – was submitted by X,Y,Z Architecture & Design, of which Labor Party deputy leader Daniel Micallef is a partner.

The locality as a whole recoiled in horror at the prospect of development gobbling up the precious green space between Triq L-Istefanotis and Triq Katerina Vitale, smack dab in the middle of town and less than 100 meters from its primary school.

Santa Lucija Local Council Minority Leader Liam Sciberras explained on Monday how residents have taken matters into their own hands following a public meeting called by the council last Wednesday. And in just six days, they had collected some 1,000 objections to the development by going door-to-door through the city. A hundred other objections were also submitted online.

Together, the more than 1,100 submissions represent half of the local voting-age population.

Sciberras, along with Deputy Mayor Fredrick Cutajar, presented the objections Monday morning at Planning Authority headquarters.

Sciberras explained that 90% of the submissions came from residents of Santa Lucija itself “who are convinced that this project will destroy the soul of our locality.

“In my capacity as city councilor and minority leader, and regardless of political affiliation, I will continue to work hard so that this neighborhood so dear to our hearts does not lose its serenity and harmony.

A Council meeting, Sciberras explained, was held on November 24, 2020 where he had been the only Santa Lucija councilor who opposed the proposal and tried to nip the project in the bud.

At the last council meeting on August 30, Sciberras was, again, the only councilor to have proposed a vote in favor of the environment and against this request in particular, but, he explained, “ nobody chose to support my motion, for what reason I don’t know”.

Although several residents urged council to vote on the issue, Sciberras explained, no vote took place because “the mayor again decided the issue was irrelevant.”

He went on to chastise the Labor majority on the Council, saying: ‘Unfortunately, of the five local councilors, it’s only me and my colleague Terrence Ellul who have gone out of their way to garner as many objections as possible.

On the contrary, he said the efforts of the other three councilors – Mayor Charmaine St John, Deputy Mayor Frederick Cutajar and Councilor Kylie D’Amato “were literally non-existent”.

“It is not enough to say that we are against the project, but we are failing in our duty to meet the inhabitants and collect testimonies. If it hadn’t been for a number of residents offering to help by going door-to-door with me, the number of submissions wouldn’t even have exceeded 150.”

Sciberras thanked PN MP Mark Anthony Sammut “who sat down with me and listened to the people of Santa Lucija, and carried the message when he spoke about the project.”

Last week, the Fourth District congressman urged his constituents to oppose the proposal, saying, “The psychological impact of development cannot be ignored.

“The village is mostly made up of old people and young families. A development of this magnitude will have a negative effect on the quality of life of these residents, especially until it is completed.

Sciberras thanked Labor MP Katya De Giovanni, who also opposed the proposed development, “and all those who believed in the soul of our village and signed the objection against this monstrous project”.

Martin E. Berry