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Fri, Sep 14, 2001 - Page 5 News List

Hillside project irks Hsinyi residents

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Residents in the Hsinyi District of Taipei City protested against an unauthorized hillside construction project next to their homes yesterday, asking the city government to immediately halt construction in order to avoid possible mudslides in the future.

PHOTO: CHU PEI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Residents of Taipei City's Hsinyi District requested yesterday that the city halt a hillside construction project next to their homes.

Residents fear the 12-story building that is being built on top of a hill could collapse onto their residences during mudslides.

Inspecting the construction site, located on Wuhsing Street, New Party City Councilor Alex Fei (費鴻泰) said that he suspected the city might have colluded with a construction firm to issue the license.

"I want to know why the city issued the construction license when construction is banned in this area," Fei said.

Ho Yu-jung (何幼榕), deputy director of the building standards office under the Bureau of Public Works, said the firm is authorized to build the structure on the site because it's not zoned as a hillside area.

His remarks infuriated local residents.

"Come on, anyone can tell it's a hillside, because it tilts almost 45 degrees," said Chen Ching-ho (陳慶和), who has been living in the area for 46 years.

In response to the city's claims, Fei requested the Bureau of Urban Development conduct an investigation into the matter and offer an explanation for the go-ahead within a week.

In addition, Fei requested the public works bureau fine the construction firm because it started the project before obtaining the city's permission to do so. The firm was granted permission on Wednesday, but it had started the project the week before.

The firm could also face a fine of NT$18,000, according to Taiwan's Construction Law (建築法).

Residents are opposed to the project because mudslides are quite common in Taiwan, especially during typhoon season.

"Several mudslides and flash floods have taken place here over the past 10 years. I've seen coffins washed down the hill from the public cemetery up there," Chen said, pointing to the hilltop.

If the drainage system was blocked like it is now, Chen said, he is afraid that there is bound to be big trouble in the future, adding that two of the three drainage canals are blocked with soil dug up from the construction site.

Another resident, Yeh Yu-chun (葉俞君), who has been living nearby for over 10 years, said she was very disappointed with how the city has handled the matter.

"We made several phone calls to complain about the situation a week ago, but officials just turned a deaf ear to our requests," she said. "I'm sure if we had any political or financial connections, we wouldn't have been treated this way."

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