A three-way negotiation on the controversial urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) broke down yesterday as the Wang family, who refused to take part in the project, walked out after the construction firm failed to accept their demand that their two houses be rebuilt on the original site.
The negotiation between the Wang family, Le Yang construction company and representatives of 36 landowners involved in the project was held yesterday at Taipei City Council in the latest effort to resolve disputes over the project, which has been stalled for almost three years due to disagreement from the Wang family.
The Taipei City Government’s demolition in March of two houses which belonged to the Wang family sparked an ongoing protest from land justice advocates, escalating tensions between the 36 households and the Wangs.
Wang Yao-teh (王耀德) accompanied his parents and other family members to the negotiation, and said the family’s demand for the construction firm to revise its plan and allow them to rebuild the houses on the site remained unchanged.
“As long as the construction firm agrees to modify the construction plan and not include the Wang family in the plan, we can rebuild our houses. We want to find a perfect solution for all, but the construction firm didn’t want to make any compromises,” he said.
Landowners who took part in the project said they were also victims because the delay has left them without their homes. They called on the city government to exercise its authority to help solve the issue.
“We have followed the regulations in the process of urban renewal, and now we became victims of this project. All we want is to move in to the new building and return home,” a landowner named Lee Tsai-yun (李彩雲) said.
Yuan Ruo-ying (袁如盈), a divisional chief at Taipei City’s Urban Redevelopment Office, said the city government has exercised its authority in demolishing the houses to make way for the legally sanctioned project, and said the city government can offer only administrative assistance from this point forward.
Keating Hsu (許獻進), a lawyer of the construction firm, said the company had correctly followed all laws and regulations in applying for the project and it would be impossible for the Wang family to rebuild their houses on the site, as the firm has obtained a construction license for the land.
“The company is willing to give them five units in the new building, and all of their neighbors will also move in to the building. They will live in new homes that are built on the site where their old houses were situated. We’ve followed all legal procedures and communicated with the family numerous times, and we don’t know what else we can do,” he said.
Since the Wang family and the construction firm both refused to make any concessions, some of the landowners involved in the project started quarreling with the Wang family, urging them to stop the protest and allow construction to begin.
The project, which will turn 38 old households into a 15-story building, is stalled as the Wang family and supporters continue to protest on the site.
Representatives of the other landowners said they will organize more negotiations in an effort to solve the dispute. Wang Yao-teh declined to confirm whether his family will join future negotiations.