Cham, 23.06.2022

Refugee accommodation unlikely to be installed in Röhrliberg

More than 1,000 residents have signed a protest against the construction of the more than 100-metre-long container building at the sports facility in Röhrliberg, Cham. In addition, there is the threat of a blockade by legal means.

Spacious public meadows where sports and letting off steam are permitted are somewhat rare in Cham. In the opinion of the local SVP (Swiss People’s Party), the green area by the Röhrliberg sports facility should therefore not be sacrificed for temporary accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, as is planned by the cantonal building department.

The SVP party is not alone in this opinion. This was shown by their petition against this location, which was presented at the municipal meeting. 1,280 local inhabitants signed it during the ten-day period.

This is a remarkable number, which surprised even the initiator Hans Jörg Villiger, because: "We from the SVP were not out on the street, or in the Neudorf to collect signatures. Word of the petition spread quickly and the population provided the signatures."

The field is actively used
Hans Jörg Villiger is the driving force behind the fight against using the site for the more than 100-metre-long, three-storey container building for 410 Ukrainian refugees. On the one hand, he lives within sight of the area, and, on the other, he gives training on the track along which the accommodation is planned.

"My heart bleeds the most as an athlete. Every day I see people on the field practising sports – including my son's schoolmates from Ukraine, who play football there," he says.

He would be surprised if the municipality insisted on this location "in view of the many negative reactions".

Different political assessments
As far as the SVP is concerned, the need to take in Ukrainian refugees is undisputed. This is also the view of the other parties who have responded to a request from our newspaper. This also shows that Mitte, FDP, ALG and GLP parties are also not happy with the Röhrliberg location, but the way they are dealing with it is different.

The Mitte and the Alternative parties want to explore options on the Pavatex site . According to their president Tao Gutekunst, the Liberals think that " everyone has to make sacrifices in the current situation." The Green Liberal President Claus Soltermann recalls that the Kanti Ennetsee was planned in this area. In contrast, the construction of the refugee shelter, which is limited to a maximum of five years, "at least ensures that the location will be available for sports again in a few years".

No second Baar
Not only the petitioners and their many co-signatories have shown their displeasure with the application. There are also numerous objections to the building application for the refugee accommodation, says the head of construction Rolf Ineichen – also a member of the SVP. Many of the objections do not directly address building law issues, but "argue emotionally," he says.

The container construction, whose installation is planned next to the circular track, also protrudes into the square (right) that is now used as a parking area, as the construction profiles show
The container construction could be erected in a field In Zug, between the Etter company (in the background) and the Sumpf industrial estate on the Chollerstrasse

Photos: Jan Pegoraro, Cham

Experience has shown that there is a threat of the application being blocked for years through the courts. An example of this in the recent past can be found in Baar. A landowner planned to build a temporary asylum shelter on the Obermüli site In 2015. Four years later, the case came before the federal court (Bundesgericht). In the end, the building application was withdrawn.

The Cham municipal council wants to avoid such a scenario, and is trying to smooth the reactions. It recently proposed a second location for the construction of the accommodation to the canton. Not on public land, but on private land, says Rolf Ineichen. He rates this place as "less critical with regard to objections", which suggests a more remote location.

It could be easier in Zug
The description "remote" also applies to the third location considered suitable for the container construction. Parallel to the Röhrliberg option, the building department had issued a building application for a plot of land on Zug soil: in the no-man's-land area near the old Lorze and the WWZ headquarters. According to the Building Department of the City of Zug, no objections were received against this until 20 June, with the deadline running until 22 June.

It is unclear whether the canton will continue to pursue the search for a location in Cham at all in view of the more optimistic prospects in Zug. At the request of the Zuger Zeitung newspaper, the Building Directorate will comment on this in the next few days.