Landowners supporting an urban renewal project in Taipei’s Yongchun Community (永春) yesterday protested the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision to uphold an earlier ruling against the Taipei City Government.
The initial ruling in the 16-year-old case said that Taipei’s approval of changes to building plans for the urban renewal project in Xinyi District (信義) filed by Senyeh Construction Co (森葉營造建設) in 2014 were illegal.
It is unacceptable that the rights and interests of the 99 percent of landowners who agreed to the project are trampled by the refusal of the minority, just one family, protesters said.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
One protester said her family agreed to the project because her father had found it increasingly difficult to climb the stairs in their building, but her father died 10 years ago and the project has still not begun.
Her mother criticized the city government, saying she agreed to the project because she believed that only 80 percent of owners whose land would be used for the new construction had to agree for the project to move forward.
She said she does not understand how it is illegal to enforce tearing down houses after the Wang (王) family incident in Shilin District (士林), calling on the city government to “take responsibility and stop playing politics.”
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
The Wang incident refers to the Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project, in which Wang Kuang-shu (王廣樹) did not agree to his land being used and filed lawsuits after the forced demolition of his house.
The High Administrative Court dismissed Wang’s claims and ordered that his land be included in the project, as his property was not on a roadside and there was not enough room to build a house on it should it be excluded.
The Wang family in 2014 negotiated an out-of-court settlement with the developer.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said that the city would continue to promote urban renewal projects.
The city government has passed a bill authorizing a settlement system for opponents of projects, Ko said, adding that it would establish a task force to handle complaints that predate the system, such as the Yongchun project.
As Senyeh had already removed buildings occupied by opponents of the project and begun construction when the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the ruling, the city government needs to call for a change to building plans, revoke building permits and temporarily halt construction, Ko said.
However, urban renewal projects in Taipei must continue, not only for the sake of the city’s aesthetics, but also for the safety of its residents, he added.
The ruling did not entirely shut down the Yongchun project, Taipei Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) said in a statement, but it would drag out the process even longer.
The task force would finalize all administrative proceedings in accordance with the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling, Lin said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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