Tue, Apr 14, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Hualien County, resort spar over land

By Sean Lin and Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporters, with CNA

Representatives from the Promised Land Resort and the Hualien County Government yesterday clashed during an Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) meeting over the county government’s allegation that the company deliberately stalled construction on a plot of land reserved for a hotel complex to drive up property prices.

The county government on Sunday filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing it of acquiring land for a development project, which the EPA approved in 1992, and saying that Chinese corporations are involved in the investment.

Over the past two decades, the company has only used 3 percent of the space it was granted, while property prices have soared from NT$200 to NT$70,000 (US$6.38 to US$2,233) per ping (3.3m2) during this period, allowing the company to earn more than NT$50 billion in profit, the county said.

It also alleged that changes Promised Land made to the original project were a pretext to delay construction while its investors waited for property prices to rise.

It said the development plan has violated the principles of fairness and justice, and requested that the EPA revoke the project’s permit.

Promised Land representatives denied the accusations at yesterday’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) meeting.

They said the county’s allegations were unfounded and would block development, thereby encouraging profiteering.

The EIA meeting was being held so that further development can be carried out, a company representative said, adding that the county’s claims were “inconsistent.”

From the project’s inception, the members of its investment board have not changed, and there have been no interactions with Chinese corporations, he said.

The project involves 133 hectares, not the 250 hectares the county government claims, he said.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Bureau denied it had colluded with the company to enclose the land the firm planned to develop.

The bureau said in a statement that the developer first applied to the Hualien County Government for a permit to establish a resort in 1987, adding that the case was approved by the bureau in 1992.

The developer changed details to the plan in 1998, 2001 and 2006, the bureau said. In its latest change, the company decided to develop the property in multiple stages to lessen the impact of construction on the environment, the bureau said.

The bureau said it formed committees in 2012 and 2013 to review the adjustments to the company’s plans, with representatives of the central government and county government taking part. The review meetings were open and held following legal procedures, it said.

The company originally asked for an extension of the development period to 2026, while review committee members asked it to finish sooner, the bureau said. The company then changed its plan to extend the development time just to 2022, the bureau said.

The bureau said Promised Land must file a report on the environmental effects of its construction because of the changes it has made.

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