The Miramar Resort Hotel (美麗灣渡假村) yesterday defended the legality of its ownership and use of beachfront land amid remarks made by the Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源), who claimed the resort’s development in Taitung County’s Shanyuan Bay (杉原灣) is largely illegal.
The construction of the build-operate-transfer development project, undertaken by Durban Development Co and the Taitung County Government, started in 2004.
The local government provided the developer with a construction permit for an area only slightly smaller than one hectare which avoided the required passing of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for its actual development area, six-hectares in total, in advance.
Following a ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court earlier this year which revoked the project’s EIA result, the court last month ordered construction work on the project be halted following a lawsuit brought about by civic groups which sued the Miramar Resort Village for its flawed EIA process.
Environmentalists have urged the local government and the Ministry of the Interior to immediately tear down the facility.
On Wednesday, Taitung County Commissioner Justin Huang (黃健庭) said that “according to the opinion of our Economic Affairs Department, it [the development project] definitely isn’t substantially illegal, therefore there is issue of tearing it down” adding that the new EIA process should proceed with a neutral stance.
However, at the Legislative Yuan on Friday, Lee, in response to queries from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) about whether the construction should be torn down, said that, according to the court’s verdict, the resort is largely illegal and that his ministry has already asked the local government to explain how it intends to deal with the case.
In response, the resort, through a press release issued yesterday, said the Minister of the Interior may have misunderstood the court’s verdict and stated that the verdict only requested that the developer halt construction of its “already abandoned construction permit on the one-hectare area,” and not the whole building.
It added that the verdict involved “withdrawing the EIA conclusion,” and not “invalidating the EIA” as some others have argued, and therefore, the new EIA process — as applied by the developer this June — should be permitted to go ahead.
The group said that its ownership and use of the land are both legal because Shanyuan Beach was determined a scenic recreation area in 1986 and, given that Taitung County government is the owner of the land, it has the legal right to use the land and therefore the buildings located there should all be legal.