Dalma Gardens Former Lessee Cries Foul Over Land Sale; Sues Yerevan Municipality
Karen Kamalyan has filed a lawsuit against the Yerevan Municipality over a 1,600 square meter plot of land in the city’s Dalma Gardens that the family has tended for almost thirty years.
Kamalyan claims he should have gotten first refusal to buy the plot when the municipality sold the lands that had been leased to residents for gardening purposes.
Dalma Gardens had been an undeveloped area of Yerevan, near the Tzitzernakaberd Hill, that once boasted fruit trees and vegetable patches tended by individuals who leased the land from the municipality.
Some areas of Dalma Gardens were proclaimed eminent domain and then sold to property developers to build the Dalma Garden Mall which opened in 2012.
The 1,600 square meter plot leased by the Kamalyans since 1994 has been allocated to Converse Bank Board Chairman Armen Ter-Tatchatyan.
Kamalyan says he received no compensation for the land, for the tress and gardens planted, even though eight other individuals in the same area were compensated.
Kamalyan told Hetq that the land was sold directly, without any auction or tender, to someone with no links to it and that it hadn’t even been proclaimed eminent domain lands.
It was Karen Kamalyan's father, Ashot, who first leased the land under a ten-year deal. The family paid all necessary taxes and fees.
In 2004, the Kamalyans applied to the municipality to renew the contract for another ten years but were rejected. No reason was given. The municipality gave them another two years. After the two-year lease expired the municipality said no more extensions would be granted.
“We were told to go cultivate the land without any lease. They said just pay the land and water tax It was very surprising. We came and started using the land that way,” says Karen Kamalyan.
Afterwards, representatives of the HayEnergo company visited the area claiming they were the owners of the lands used by the Kamalyans and adjacent plots totalling about one hectare. To placate the incensed land users, the company representatives promised to compensate them.
“Two years later, in 2008, Armen Ter-Tachatyan visited and said that the land was his. We replied the land was ours.”
Negotiations between the landowners and Ter-Tachtyan soon commenced. The Yerevan Municipality is also sitting in on the talks.
The municipality tried to negotiate a resolution, but Karen Kamalyan believes the person who purchased the land should compensate the land users.
Armen Ter-Tachatyan has compensated eight out of the nine land users, except for the Kamalyan family, in adjacent areas.
Negotiations with the Kamalyans proceeded smoothly until the moment when then Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan announced that during his tenure no building permit would be issued in the Dalma Gardens area. That statement brought the Kamalyan-Ter-Tachatyan negotiations to a deadlock.
In 2019, Karen Kamalyan sued the Yerevan Municipality in civil court. In 2020, he filed a motion that the court issue a directive banning the sale of the land. The court refused.
Early in the trial trial, the Kamalyans tried to meet with Arem Ter-Tachatyan once again to negotiate a compensation deal. The banker asked them to leave his office.
Karen Kamalyan says he either wants monetary compensation or an equivalent piece of land somewhere else, adding that the land offered must be registered as his family’s private property.