Planners determine that large parking lot planned for heart of nature reserve would be moved eastward.

Tel Aviv resident activists who have been struggling against the construction of a future resort complex in Tel Baruch achieved a small victory on Thursday when planners determined that a large parking lot planned for the heart of the nature reserve would be moved eastward.

Residents involved in “The Struggle to Save the Tel Aviv Reserve” had arrived in Jerusalem on Thursday to protest in front of the Interior Ministry, where the National Council for Planning and Building was hearing the group’s appeal against construction in the area – which residents say is the last nature reserve in Tel Aviv.

During the meeting, Tel Aviv district planner Naomi Angel said that the location of an underground parking lot in the middle of the coastal park was “troubling,” and that the parking lot must be moved to the area eastward where the hotels will be located.

“It is possible to add, by means of enlarging the regulation for hotel parking by 50 percent, many parking spaces, which will be administered as public parking lots and will meet parking needs,” Angel said.

The larger Building Plan 3700 calls for massive construction in open spaces in northwest Tel Aviv, from the Herzliya border in the north until Sde Dov Airport in the south. Within this area, the city plans to construct more than 12,000 apartments and hotel rooms, parking lots, shopping centers and transportation arteries.

A small subsection of the plan contains the Tel Baruch area that the residents are fighting to protect, an area that is home to rare flora and is a last urban oasis for Tel Aviv, they say.

The controversial portion is located west of Road 2040 and contains more than 200 species of unique plants and animals endemic to the sands there, they have explained.

Within that area, however, are plans for the large parking lot with a total of 4,000 spaces, commercial centers and an artificial green park – something the activists claim there are plenty of in Tel Aviv.

While still only a partial victory in the eyes of the protesters – who would prefer not to have any construction on the reserve – they called the decision a “surprising change in municipal policy.”

“We welcome the expected changes in the program, which will reduce the damage to natural assets and unique landscapes in the ridge area,” said Galit Samuel, chairwoman of the residents forum. “However, these changes are not enough in order to prevent serious and irreversible changes to the natural system in the area.”