Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli has filed a new application to build a further agricultural store on his daughter’s 18-tumoli of agricultural land in Nadur, set in an idyllic environment, metres away from the historic Kenuna tower. The pair built their first storeroom, contravening the terms of their Planning Authority permit, last year.
The Shift is informed that the latest application, filed just a few weeks ago by Perit Emanuel Vella – is seeking Planning Authority approval to turn a pile of rubble into a new 23 square metre agricultural store in order to give Joseph Portelli’s 24-year-old daughter, Chloe, more space to ‘store her crops’.
The Portellis’ are claiming that the current pile of rubble on site was once an agricultural store.
This is the Portellis’ second application in just a few months for permits to build ‘rooms’ on their agricultural land.
Only last year, Portelli’s daughter, Chloe, who is the general manager of her father’s boutique hotels, registered herself as a farmer and applied for the erection of an agricultural store on the land, known as Gebel L-Ahmar, which was given to her by her father.
Chloe Portelli, who is not known to have any experience in agriculture, declared that she needed the store in a location offering breathtaking views across the Gozo channel.
After many attempts to modify the unacceptable plans and satisfy the authorities, the PA approved the permit. However, the completed store still diverged radically from the approved plans, which led to the authorities issuing an enforcement notice on building.
Instead of constructing the room according to the permit, the Portellis added windows and constructed a sloping roof on the store, creating more internal space.
At the same time, the Portellis built an illegal concrete platform, a reservoir and levelled the soil in the area, none of which was covered by a planning permit.
The PA has now ordered the Portellis to remove the illegalities and has imposed daily fines until these are removed. However, following a fresh application to sanction the illegalities, still under consideration, the daily fines have been suspended.
In the meantime, Joseph Portelli has applied to build a second store just a few metres away from the original, illegally built agricultural store.
A story of illegalities and defiance of rules
The Gebel l-Ahmar story is one of many in which the Gozitan construction magnate is involved.
The site itself had already become controversial when, after Portelli acquired it from third parties, he began abusively dumping construction material on site. It was only after several media reports that the PA intervened and ordered Portelli to clear the area.
Afterwards, Portelli, again without any form of planning permission, started building long, high rubble walls. The PA issued an enforcement order against the illegally built walls only after the works were complete.
Months later, Portelli applied to sanction the illegal rubble walls and the PA obliged, ordering him to pay a small fine. This development meant that the developer could tap into some €200,000 in EU funds to help finance the abusively-built project.
Canadian-born Portelli has become known for the apparent impunity he enjoys – he’s been linked to myriad illegal developments all over the island, many of which are later sanctioned by the Planning Authority.
Flaunting his closeness to both major political parties, Portelli is a known benefactor of both the Labour Party and the PN, and he contributes generously to every fundraising campaign either Party holds.
Portelli declared openly that he maintains close links to politicians to leverage their assistance in realising his projects.
In one of the most glaring examples of ongoing impunity, the government, led by Robert Abela, has permitted Portelli to construct and operate an illegal concrete batching plant in a publicly owned quarry in Kercem.
In addition, the concrete, produced at the still-operational illegal plant, is being used in major government projects in Gozo.