The municipal council (which has five members of local political group Är Leit, four CSV and two independent members) session will be exceptional, in terms of its agenda, which includes a review of Google’s application for a special development plan (PAP).
Nicolas Léonard: Have exceptional measures been taken?
David Viaggi: “Yes, it was necessary, because the sessions are public. Citizens who want to attend can reserve a seat in the room. But we will also broadcast the council meeting on our website and on Facebook.”
Is Thursday’s meeting an important step? Will it be decisive?
“It’s a pivotal moment, in any event. If we reject the PAP, it starts all over again, and I don’t know if Google will want to continue. This is a first thing. Then, when the issue began, I was in opposition on the local council, and we demanded that the municipality be more strict and demanding of [Google]. We were then told that it would be a ‘light’ PAP which would be further developed once the authorisations to continue were given. We did not agree, and asked Google to take into account the comments already made about noise, light, the height of buildings. I maintain the same requirements.”
Were you listened to?
“In any case, there have been more intense contacts between the ministry and Google, which has been guided and advised in its efforts. Likewise with us, at the local level. Google has been much more transparent. Their wish is to take it step by step, so we said we were okay with that approach. If the PAP is passed, it will be necessary to start the procedures to obtain building permits, conduct environmental impact studies and submit them to the ministries... the path is not complete. At this stage, we will carefully analyse the changes made to the PAP and see if this meets the constraints of the [general development plan (PAG)]. My feeling is that Google has tried to take into account the comments made, the wishes of residents, the advice of the authorities… we will have to see if this is sufficient. For example, we have succeeded in having the initial height of the buildings [33m] revised downwards. This has been the case [so far], but perhaps we can do even better.
The national government has called the Google project decisive and said that it strongly supports it. Does that put more pressure on you at the local level?
“No, because we were clear from the start. On the contrary, it was even the municipality that put more pressure by asking the ministries to guide Google so that this progresses peacefully. And that’s what was done.”
Originally published in French by Paperjam and translated for Delano