Holiday home declared "a ship" sparks mutiny

The beachfront property above may look like a trendy modern beach home for a well-to do owner but it is in fact a ship, according to officials.

Western Latvia newspaper Kursas laiks reports an absurd situation in which the quite obvious holiday home has been deemed an ocean-going vessel in an apparently successful attempt to circumvent planning laws that prevent the construction of new buildings on or very close to the shoreline.

 "It is not a house, it is a ship," is the answer the newspaper got when it asked how it was possible the building had been constructed just meters from the beach.

According to Ingrīda Sotņikova of the Liepaja Regional Environmental Directorate, construction of the "structures" in trendy Pavilosta district - a favorite weekend break destination for well-heeled Rigans - began five years ago.

Planners received complaints and imposed a penalty for unlawful construction but the owner of the property appealed and launched a lawsuit claiming the structures were in fact a ship. Amazingly, the authorities lost the case and so the building has the status of "a ship standing on the shore", Sotņikova told the paper.

In the eyes of the law, there is no need for a ship to have ever been on water to qualify as such. Documents were supplied demonstrating that, were it so called upon, the structure would float - at least in theory if not practice.

However, as the newspaper wryly notes, coastal erosion and the fact that the absurd ark is just two meters from a steep drop might mean that after a couple more Baltic storms its sea-worthiness is put to the test after all.

But by December 19 court and local authority officials were disputing the exact status of the ship/house, and who should carry the can for the fact that it has been sitting in the dunes for years rather than saily the briny sea with the skull and crossbones a-flapping.

The owner of the house was also named as businessman Argods Lūsiņš, one of the top 10 richest people in Latvia and a notable donor to the Vienotiba (Unity) and Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) political parties, both of which are currently in government. 

 

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