The latest constitutional interpretation of the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例), which ruled that part of the act violated the Constitution, will not affect negotiations on the stalled Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林), the Taipei City Government said yesterday, insisting it is legitimate.
The Council of Grand Justices on Friday handed down Interpretation No. 709, finding that some of the articles in the act does not guarantee individuals involved in cases have access to relevant information and the opportunity to voice their opinions. It also said the act failed to demand that authorities deliver relevant information to all legal property owners involved in cases, or demand that a public hearing be held where all parties involved can state their opinions.
As to the Wenlin Yuan project, the grand justices denied a request to review the legality of the Taipei City Government’s forced demolition of the Wang (王) family’s houses to facilitate the construction, as the case is still being heard at the Taipei High Administrative Court.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday cited the interpretation to defend the legality of the demolition, and said negotiations with the Wang family, 36 households taking part in the project and the project developer would proceed.
Taipei Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), who is leading the negotiations, said the developer of the Wenlin Yuan project has completed the urban renewal process, and the city government will focus its efforts on negotiations to solve the disputes over the project.
“Only part of the act violated the Constitution, and the grand justices did not find our handling of the Wenlin Yuan project illegal … We expect the negotiation to resolve controversies over the project,” he said.
The city government held its first meeting with the three parties earlier this month and will continue to discuss related issues. The Wang family’s previous insistence that their houses be rebuilt on the original site is one of the proposed solutions, and discussions on other solutions will continue without a timetable, he said.
Members of the Wang family yesterday accused the city government of distorting the constitutional interpretation and evading responsibility, insisting that the forced demolition of their houses last year was illegal.
“The constitutional interpretation questioned the urban renewal process, and that applies to the city government’s handling of the Wenlin Yuan project. It’s nonsense to say that the demolition was legal,” said Wang Kuan-shu (王廣樹), a family member.
However, representatives of the 36 households voiced support for the city government’s handling of the case.
Hsieh Chun-chiao (謝春嬌), a spokesperson for the households, said that the developer had followed regulations by obtaining approval from more than 70 percent of the households and sending relevant information to all the households, and that the city government had the authority to facilitate the project.
Taipei City Urban Redevelopment Office Director Lin Chung-chieh (林崇傑) said the interpretation, which requires the authorities to hold public hearings with households and send a finalized version of all the pros and cons of the project to all concerned parties, would affect about 400 urban renewal applications. The city government will meet with the Ministry of the Interior to discuss the cases.