The second-tier Tallinn Circuit Court has rejected an appeal by OÜ Uranos regarding a property located at Harju 30 in Tallinn's Old Town. The court noted in its rejection that Trepi Street, which runs adjacent to the property, is historical and eligible for protection as an archaeological monument.
OÜ Uranus filed an appeal with Tallinn Circuit Court seeking the annulment of Tallinn City Council's decision "Establishment of compulsory possession and designation of administrator for part of the immovable property at Harju tn 30 for the benefit of the City of Tallinn," Pealinn writes (link in Estonian).
The court found in its decision that Trepi Street is historical and eligible for protection as an archaeological monument. "The city's room for discretion over deciding the location of the street is reduced as a result. ...Based on these conditions, the responsible party had to restore Trepi Street if possible, and this could not be built wherever or in whatever shape."
As it is possible to restore Trepi Street, under Tallinn's Old Town heritage conservation area statutes, OÜ Uranos was given no room for discretion regarding the decision to restore the street, and the street was required to be restored at its former location.
"As a result, there was an overriding public interest in the establishment of compulsory possession," the court noted.
A zoning plan involving the property and allowing for construction was approved in 2000, but was not implemented. In accordance with a March 9, 2006 decision of Tallinn City Council, it was decided to landscape the property and erect a monument to the March 9, 1944 bombing of Tallinn there.
Part of the memorial was to involve the restoration of Nõelasilma Gate and Trepi Sreet. In 2006, the City of Tallinn began excavation work on the historical Trepi Street and Nõelasilma Gate on the property to the north of the property located at Harju 30. This excavation work extended onto the property owned by OÜ Uranos. In the course of the restoration of the street, a support wall was built on the property of Harju 30, and Nõelasilma Gate alongside and partially on the property as well. The owner of the property at Harju 30, OÜ Uranos, had not given its consent for this construction work.
With a May 2, 2019 decision by Tallinn City Council, compulsory possession benefiting the City of Tallinn was established on the immovable property at Harju 30 for the construction, maintenance and use of a local road in the public interest under the following conditions:
1.) the compulsory possession affects a 35 square meter portion along the northern side of the immovable property, along which a wall and part of Nõelasilma Gate have been built;
2.) the compulsory possession has been set for an indefinite period;
3.) compensation for the compulsory possession is set at €1,113 per year, plus land tax accounting for the area of land under compulsory possession;
4.) compensation for the compulsory possession is paid to the owner of the immovable property for the year on July 1;
5.) the City of Tallinn will bear the responsibility of the economic maintenance of the area of land under compulsory possession (including the management, upkeep, renovation thereof as well as the fulfillment other landowner obligations), and will bear all related expenses.
Owner plants potatoes in protest
Last year, businessman Heino Viik, who has been locked in dispute for the past decade with Tallinn City Council over the plot of land located in front of St. Nicholas' Church, finally decided to make practical use of his land and planted potatoes there.
The 715 square meter property at Harju 30 is owned by Viik's company Uranos OÜ. In 2007, the city, unauthorized, built two structures on Viik's property: a reinforced concrete wall on Trepi Street, and one post of Nõelasilma Gate, paving the way for lengthy litigation.
In 2012, the businessman achieved a victory over the city in Tallinn Circuit Court after having submitted a large amount of evidence that the city conducted construction work on his property maliciously and without authorization, and prevented the use of his property. The court ruled in favor of the business owner, ordering the city to dismantle the wall and gate and restore the property to the state it was in prior to excavation and construction works. To this day, the property has not been restored, and anyone walking along Harju Street can see that both the support wall and Nõelasilma Gate remain standing. In order to pressure the city, Viik contacted a bailiff, and on January 31, the City of Tallinn was served with a notice.
According to the businessman, however, the bigger issue is the fact that while the property's intended purpose is officially zoned as 50 percent residential land and 50 percent commercial land and Uranos OÜ has paid nearly €60,000 in land tax over the past 14 years, he nonetheless cannot use the property, as the city is blocking the necessary permits.
Viik noted that he would actually like to sell the property to the city, with an asking price of €1.6 million. According to the owner's calculations, the 715 square meter property is currently worth €3.2 million, but he is willing to sell at half price.
Editor: Aili Vahtla