New Moscow: pre-emptive land plot purchase rights introduced and forest legal status changed
Legal Update No. 373, 31 July 2012
Goltsblat BLP advises that Federal Law of 29 June 2012 No. 96-FZ "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation” came into effect on 1 July 2012. This Law specifies the provisions of the legislation in connection with expansion of the territory of the City of Moscow, the most important changes being as follows:
Pre-emptive land plot purchase rights
The amendments to article 19.1 of the Federal Law of 24 July 2002 “On Sale and Purchase of Agricultural Land” provide for the City of Moscow to have the pre-emptive right to purchase agricultural land plots converted to urban land as a result of the change to the Moscow city boundaries until 1 January 2025.
This means, in particular, that all the land constituting part of the territory of New Moscow is recognised to automatically converted into urban lands category. The federal legislation does not grant Russian regions the pre-emptive right to purchase such land plots, but an exception has been made from the general rule for territory absorbed into Moscow. No other restrictions are set by the legislation on sale and purchase of agricultural land (such as restrictions on foreigners acquiring title to plots).
Legal status of forests
In accordance with the amendments introduced into the Federal Law of 4 December 2006 "On Introduction of the Forest Code of the Russian Federation into Effect”, forests that were previously located on forest fund land on territories now included within the changed boundaries of Moscow may, by decision of an authorised Moscow body, be included in the green fund in accordance with the environmental legislation. If forest and parkland and green zones are included in the green fund, the requirements of part 6, article 105 of the Forest Code of the Russian Federation (prohibiting changes to the boundaries of forest and parkland zones, green zones and urban forest that might reduce their area) do not apply.
From the perspective of the forest legislation, forests located within the boundaries of cities/towns are recognised as urban forests - subcategory protective forest. It is prohibited, for instance, to locate capital structure in urban forests, with the exception of hydro-engineering structures (part 5.1, article 105 of the Forest Code of the Russian Federation). Even so, the restrictions envisaged by article 61 of the Federal Law “On Environmental Protection” are worded less stringently: on land constituting part of the green fund, it is prohibited to conduct any commercial or other activities exerting a negative impact on the given territories and impeding them in fulfilling their functions of an ecological, sanitary and hygienic and recreational nature.
In this connection, it may be assumed that, if a decision of an authorised body of the City of Moscow includes the forests on the new territory within the green fund, the degree of their protection will be somewhat reduced.
Deferred adoption of the Moscow Land Use and Development Rules
The date for adoption of the Moscow Land Use and Development Rules has been deferred from 31 December 2012 to 31 December 2014. Until then, it is permitted, in particular:
for the authorities to pass decisions
on reserving land,
on withdrawing, including by purchasing, land plots for state or municipal needs,
on recategorising land,
and on preparing documentation for territory planning in the absence of a general plan for the City of Moscow;
to issue construction permits in the absence of Land Use and Development Rules of the City of Moscow.
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