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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Frets Over Property Sell-Offs

Editor's note: This is the first of a weekly series covering what the city fathers are discussing and deciding at City Hall meetings, which are held every Tuesday.

City Hall officials are looking to rein in privatization of Moscow property, saying certain plots must be reserved for roads, schools and hospitals.

The bill being considered, an updated version of an existing city law dealing with land and construction, comes in response to Land, Housing and Building codes passed by the federal government.

The federal Land Code allows for the privatization of government properties.

The City Hall measure, which officials considered in a weekly meeting Tuesday, is crucial because it would prevent investors from snapping up city properties indiscriminately, said Pshimaf Shevotsukov, first deputy head of the city architecture and construction committee.

"The transfer of some city land to private ownership has begun taking place," he said.

"It's very good that the bill calls for a civilized transfer, not a revolution."

The bill would also punish real estate developers for taking too long to finish projects, said First Deputy Mayor Yury Roslyak. Developers would face a fine of up to 5 million rubles if they take more than three years to complete construction of their projects, Roslyak added. He did not specify how officials arrived at a three-year cap or whether there would be exemptions.

The bill will go to the City Duma in one week.

In other business Tuesday, City Hall officials discussed housing and public transportation in the Zelenograd administrative district, several kilometers northwest of Moscow.

The city plans to tear down the five-story Khrushchev-era apartment buildings in Zelenograd and build apartment blocks in their place, said Rostislav Gorbanyov, first deputy director of the Institute for the Research of the City General Plan, a zoning agency. The last Khrushchev-era building will be razed in 2009, he said.

Zelenograd district head Anatoly Smirnov asked for more city money to build public stadiums.

Also under consideration is a high-speed train linking Zelenograd, an exclave of Moscow surrounded by the Moscow region, and one or more of the city's major railroad stations. Leonid Lipsits, head of City Hall's transportation and communications department, said the city was working with the St. Petersburg branch of Russian Railways.

On Tuesday, city officials ordered Moscow agencies to work with Smirnov on the construction and transportation initiatives and resubmit them for approval in a week.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov did not attend the meeting.