As reported by Domani, the issue is 4 and half hectares nearby the stadium where the Mayor of Venice’s basketball team plays: purchased on 3 December, it became zoned for development on 13 December of the same year. The Mayor was absent and did not vote, but Barbara Casarin did vote in favor – she is part of the Brugnaro group and the sister of Federico Casarin, the president of Reyer.
By Giuseppe Pietrobelli
9 September 2021
[Ed. Note: Over the past week the daily paper Domani has been publishing a detailed expose of the many ways in which Luigi Brugnaro the Mayor is helping Luigi Bruguaro the businessman to realize his long term business goals. The report is a bit beyond the scope of this blog (I don’t have time!) but this story from Il Fatto Quotidiano focuses on one very emblematic aspect of the broader problem of Pili and Brugnaro’s business interests.]
The administration of Mayor Luigi Brugnaro proposes a variance that authorizes a greater consumption of soil and modifies the zoning for an area of about 218 thousand square meters. The city council approves it with a majority. But just a few days earlier the sports consortium Reyer Venezia Mestre, owned by the Mayor, had completed the purchase of farm land which, thanks to this particular variance, are now destined to become home to sports structures and infrastructure. It’s a parcel of 4 and a half hectares that are located nearby the stadium “Taliercio” of Mestre, where the basketball team that was champion of Italy, both men’s and women’s, plays. The documents reveal a strange game of time, styles and people, unique to say the least. It deserves to be reported given that the management of the Municipality of Venice and the interests of the Mayor-entrepreneur have recently been in the spotlight, with parliamentary investigations that are asking if the public and private lives of the first citizen are really distinct and distinguishable. Brugnaro has built an economic empire and just recently entered the field with his political party Coraggio Italia.
THE ‘BRUNGARO SYSTEM’ – the ‘Brugnaro system’ and the alleged conflict of interests which it created was brought up by senator Orietta Vanin of the Cinquestelle Movement and by the national secretary of the Italian Italian Left, Nicola Fratoianni, as well as by exponents of the Venetian Democratic Party, group leader Monica Sambo and councilor Giuseppe Saccà. They are referring primarily to the ownership of a vast area in the area Ai Pili, on the Mestre shores of the Lagoon, which will become the Port of Venice, in the future attracting a large flow of tourists. But the actual independence of the blind trust to which Brugnaro entrusted management of his business affairs is being questioned, though he claims that these interests do not affair with his administrative responsibilities. The object of the news daily Domani’s journalistic investigation of his alleged conflicts of interest, published in recent days, responded characteristically: “They have aimed the mudslinging machine at me, just as was done to Silvio Berlusconi, hoping that people think that deep under there is something true. But here there are insults without any basis and I will denounce them for this”.
THE URBAN VARIANCE – In reality, it is not easy for the sixty year old entrepreneur who founded the Umana Group – twenty businesses with combined revenue of 700 million Euro per year – to avoid the fact that decisions made by his government affect his businesses. The issue of the land bought by Reyer in December 2019, reported by Domani, is an eloquent example. With a resolution on 7 September 2017 the city administration identified “areas of consolidated urbanization”, an instrument needed for the management of the development of the area, also from the perspective of controlling use of soil. In the meantime with an announcment in October 2016 a public advisory was set up to collect ideas, proposals and projects for a plan of transformation interventions. On 25 July 2018 a resolution by the administration approved the directions of the plan based on the “claims of private subjects” submitted for urban planning inquiry. The result of this work was the “Variante al Piano degli Interventi, relativa all’individuazione di ambiti soggetti a riprogettazione urbana”, presented by the Councilor for Urban Planning, the surveyor Massimiliano De Martin, which the city council approved on 13 December 2019. The Mayor was absent and did not vote, but Barbara Casarin did vote in favor, and she is part of the Brugnaro group, works as a legal assistant in the Court of Appeals and is the sister of Federico Casarin, the president of Reyer.
FORM NUMBER 8 – There are 18 forms for the “urban redevelopment”. But “number 8” is interesting because it concerns the land that Reyer bought from Pacifico Soravia, the Mestre construction firm that had presented the request for the zoning variance. It is found in via Martello in Mestre, not far from the stadium where the Reyer teams play. The variance concerns an area of 65 thousand square meters zoned for residential use and the possibility to build single or two family homes (166 residents were theoretically possible), with a maximum height of 7.5 meters. On the Piano Urbanistico Attuativo (Urban Implementation Plan) “the greater value generated by the project” will be calculated. Furthermore “the total or partial monetization of the urban planning standards is permitted at the discretion of the Municipal Administration”. In any case the zoning will have to guarantee “accessibility to the area for sport and entertainment external to the scope of the project, placed in the north-east”.
THE REYER AREA – In fact there is a second area in the Plan, destined for sports activities and facilities: the land that Reyer bought from Soravia. The purchase, according to the public records, is dated 3 December 2019, ten days before the approval of the plan. Reyer purchased the “arable” land (foglio 142, particelle 876, 865, 878) equivalent to roughly 4.5 hectares. Soravia’s holdings (forty hectares in total) were divided up in February and April 2019. Evidently this was a prelude to the sale. “I bought this land in 2003 from a Belluno man, from Cadore like me – relates Soravia – But it was already zoned for building, seeing that I could have made a hotel for sport. But the restriction couldn’t last forever, and I build homes, not gyms. So I requested to be included In the plan”. If he was able to build villas, the nearby land sold to Reyer had changed zoning, no longer agricultural but for sport. Why did Reyer buy it? “They told me that they needed this land to build lodgings for athletes and then I knew that they would want to build gyms for the public”. From the Plan it emerges that he land sold to the Mayor’s business has to provide a green area in order to comply with the Asset Plan of the Municipal Territory which calls for an “ecological network in the whole area of the farm belt”. “Signing the deed of sale was the president of Reyer, Federico Casarin”. How much did they pay? “It seems to me 14.80 Euro per square meter, two hectares for sport, the rest for agricultural use”. The deed is dated 3 December 2019, and on 13 December the city council voted to transform the land and zone it for development.
Source: Il Fatto Quotidiano