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Planning and environmental issues


Which government authorities regulate planning and zoning for real estate development and use in your jurisdiction and what is the extent of their powers?

Ecological planning At the federal level, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) is responsible for developing the overall national ecological zoning plan.

Local environmental ministries can also issue ecological zoning plans relating to their jurisdiction (as long as they are expressly conferred to them and do not fall under federal jurisdiction).

Urban planning Local ministries of urban development and municipal authorities can issue and enforce urban development legislation and regulations within their corresponding competence and jurisdiction and ultimately issue the corresponding land use and construction licences.

What are the eligibility, procedural and documentary requirements to obtain planning permission?

Depending on the type of activity, a review of the federal and local legislations and regulations must be undertaken in order to ensure that such activity is permitted under the ecological and urbanistic zoning plans. If permitted, the following documents may be required for the construction and operation of infrastructure:

  • an environmental impact authorisation;
  • an authorisation for the forestry land use change;
  • a land use licence;
  • a construction licence;
  • water concession titles or water supply agreements with the corresponding authority or services provider;
  • a wastewater discharge permit; and
  • a registration for the generating of waste and management plans.

Can planning decisions be appealed? If so, what is the appeal procedure?

Yes. Depending on federal or local jurisdiction, planning decisions can be appealed by filing:

  • a review appeal before the authority that issued the planning decision;
  • an administrative suit before the Federal Court of Administrative Justice; or
  • an amparo suit where local or federal legislation do not provide means for appealing planning decisions or urban development legislation. 

What are the consequences of failure to comply with planning decisions or regulations?

Failure to comply with the corresponding legislation on planning matters could result in:

  • the imposition of economic penalties;
  • the suspension of activities;
  • the revocation of permits or licences; or
  • partial or total shutdowns on a temporary or permanent basis.

What regime governs the protection and development of historic and cultural buildings?

The protection of historic, cultural and archaeological monuments, buildings and vestiges is governed by the Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Monuments and Zones and its regulations. The National Institute on Anthropology and History (INAH) enforces the law and preserves the cultural and archaeological patrimony.

Government expropriation

What regime applies to government expropriation of real estate?

In order for the government to expropriate certain real estate, the corresponding authority must prove that such expropriation is being executed as a result of a specific public benefit or use.

Mexican law contemplates, among other things, the following scenarios as public utility causes:

  • the establishment, exploitation and conservation of a public service;
  • the constitution, expansion or alignment of streets, avenues, bridges, tunnels and highways to facilitate urban and sub-urban transit;
  • the decoration, expansion and sanitation of towns and ports;
  • the construction of hospitals, schools, parks, gardens, sport and landing facilities and federal offices; and
  • the construction of public infrastructure and ministration of public services which require real estate or improvements to existing real estate.

What is the required notice period for expropriation and how is compensation calculated?

Once the expropriation decree has been published in the Federal Official Gazette, the affected individuals must be notified personally within 15 business days of publication.

Compensation is calculated by certified appraisers and the value may not be under the values assigned to the real estate by the cadastral authorities.

Environmental issues

What environmental certifications are required for the development of real estate and how are they obtained?

For the preparation of a site and the construction of a real estate project, the following permits may be required:

  • an environmental impact authorisation (issued by SEMARNAT or the local corresponding authority), depending on the surface to be affected or constructed, the heights of the buildings and water consumption (among other elements);
  • an authorisation for land use change in forestry areas, where applicable;
  • INAH authorisation for constructions on land which contains archaeological monuments or vestiges;
  • a land use licence; and
  • a construction licence.

In regard to the operation of real estate developments, the following environmental permits and approvals may also be required:

  • concession titles for the use and exploitation of domestic waters or a wastewater discharge permit onto federal land and the corresponding agreement with the local or municipal authority for the supply of water and discharge of wastewater into the local sewage or drainage system;
  • registry (before SEMARNAT) as a hazardous wastes generator or special management waste generator; depending on the volume of waste generated, the developer may be required to elaborate a management plan and submit it for approval before the corresponding authority;
  • a comprehensive environmental licence, if applicable;
  • approval of the internal civil protection plan; and
  • an operation licence (issued by the corresponding municipality).

What environmental disclosure obligations apply to real estate sales?

The following must be disclosed in a real estate sale:

  • evidence of contamination of the soil, the ground (above or under) or water that may require remediation; and
  • any administrative procedure initiated by urban or environmental authorities.

What rules and procedures govern environmental clean-up of property? Which parties are responsible for clean-up and what is the extent of their liability?

The applicable legal framework is the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental protection and the General Law for the Comprehensive Management of Wastes and its regulations. SEMARNAT governs soil contamination caused by hazardous wastes or materials.

The specific methodology for characterising and resolving contaminated soil is established in Official Standard 183-SEMARNAT/SSA1-2012 regarding maximum permitted limits of hydrocarbons in soil and procedures for its characterisation and remediation specifications.

There are three types of liability in regard to soil contamination: civil, criminal and administrative. Those that actively contaminate the soil may be held accountable in terms of civil and criminal responsibility; however, owners or lessees may also be responsible in administrative terms. 

Are there any regulations or incentive schemes in place to promote energy efficiency and emissions reductions in buildings?

There is a programme for the certification of sustainable edifications currently in force in Mexico City in relation to the construction and development of buildings within its jurisdiction.

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