Rumors that the coveted mountain landscape overlooking Ajijic is under immediate threat of devastation by developers sparked an uproar among village inhabitants, despite public denials from outgoing city hall officials.
The outcry derives from a Facebook post by Sara Kelly Keenan, a foreign resident involved in a local hiking group who wrote, “Construction equipment will arrive within two weeks to begin the destruction of the Tepalo Waterfall Trail.”
Consulted prior to his departure as director of Chapala’s Urban Development and Planning department, José Barajas acknowledged that he was approached about six months ago by investors interested in building a 150-unit apartment complex situated in the mountain range. He stated he had refused to issue any permits for the project to proceed. That posture was confirmed by members of the government’s urban development commission following its final session on September 25.
Keenan, however, tells this newspaper that her warning was based on information from two lawyers who claim that the developers have already obtained authorization from higher levels of government. She indicated that the proposed building site is located slightly west of a hillside saddle along the Tepalo trail called El Pandito, hovering above the area of Villa Nova.
Local pro-environment activist Alicia Cordova has taken the hiker’s cue to mobilize the community in forming a citizens’ defense group that will dig further into the matter and stand up against unchecked urban growth that damages the area’s natural surroundings, flora and fauna, and quality of life for the population.