Sat, Nov 18, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Terms of property use ignored in school construction

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei Physical Education College is widely known as the alma mater of New York Yankees starting pitcher Wang Chien-ming (王建民), but few know that some of its buildings were constructed without proper licenses.

In a press conference hosted jointly by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇), environmentalists and representatives from the Tianmu Taipei Residents Rights Committee, Tien said that the Taipei City Government had failed to register how the property would be used before they turned the Tianmu Sports Park into the Taipei Physical Education College in Tianmu.

Confronted with protests from local residents about changes to the terms of property use, the Taipei City Government then applied for a construction license to build a sports facility rather than a college campus, the groups charged.

The group said they had filed a lawsuit with the Taipei Prosecutors' Office yesterday morning against the Taipei City Government, on allegations of forgery.

They added that the city government violated its own commitments in the environmental assessment report.

Yang Li-mei (楊麗美), chairman of the rights committee, said his organization never approved the city government's decision to use the land to build a college campus.

Soon after the decision was announced, the committee managed to garner 26,000 signatures opposing the development, she said.

Although Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has held several discussions with the representatives and has been aware that they strongly opposed the deal for some time, his administration has continued to pursue the project. So far, investment has topped NT$10 billion (US$3.125 billion), she said.

Former Taipei City mayor Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) designated the land in Tianmu Sports Park as the site for the Taipei Physical Education College in 1996.

The Ministry of Education was asked to assess the environmental impact of constructing a college campus. The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) later approved the report.

However, when the city government applied for a construction license, it turned in a zoning report that stated the land would be used to build a stadium.

Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文), director-general of the EPA's comprehensive planning department, said the EPA conditionally approved the city's environmental impact statement on the grounds that the city would change the terms of property use before acquiring the construction license for the campus.

"Knowing the difficulties in changing the terms of property use, they [the city government] then went ahead to build the campus first and planned to change the terms of property use later," he said.

Chen Hsiung-wen said the EPA was now aware of the issue and had sent official notification to the Taipei City Government requesting it to change the terms of property use within a specific period of time.

The EPA is also entitled to penalize the city government if it fails to do so.

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