Leaders of Viljandi City Government have called involvement by the state Heritage Protection Board (Muinsuskaitseamet) excessive interference, and have appealed to the Ministry of Culture to not approve a new heritage protection order in the South Estonian town, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday.
The Heritage Protection Board refutes this criticism, claiming that Viljandi city government's proposals were taken into consideration to the fullest extent permitted by the Heritage Protection Act.
Kalvi Märtin (Reform), deputy mayor of Viljandi, told AK that: "A substantial beach area is adjacent to Viljandi järv. Should this protection order be established, we would no longer be able to discuss a potential a rowing channel or adventure park there, both of which have been talked about by Viljandi City Government."
"This is because the protection order states that you could put benches there and perhaps some small footpaths, but that would be all. In the same way, is it really up to the state to annonce what kind of trees must be grown in Viljandi, and where, or whether cars could be parked in the old town – or what type of vehicle traffic there must be," Märtin went on.
Kaire Tooming, the board's head of protection of heritage constructions, however, told AK that: "A noticeable reduction in the number of valuable green areas identified by analysis was also proposed by the Viljandi city government. So they have gone all in."
The board says that the heritage site was divided into three zones, each with different requirements, while the board has the obligation to have its say on matters such as tree-felling, planting and other planning aspects.
Parking under the city's plans in particular would run against heritage protection requirements, Tooming added.
The board had said that the current, valid heritage protection statute in Viljandi was inadequate, adding that the new version eases restrictions placed on property owners, and also brings it into line with the updated Heritage Protection Act.
The city government nonetheless says it will not back down from its demands.
"We expect that this protection order will be sent back to the Heritage Protection Board, by the Ministry of Culture, and that the Heritage Protection Board will in essence cooperate with the city of Viljandi, and listen to the wishes of the people of Viljandi, the city council, and the city government," Kalvi Märtin told AK.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'