Fri, Oct 19, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Tainan alters law after demolishment

HERITAGE SITES:An evaluation said that the mansion had cultural value, but the owners apparently had it torn down without providing notice to the authorities

By Liu Wan-chun, Wu Chun-feng and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The Tainan Municipal Cultural Heritage Administration on Monday said it would provide broader legal protection to potential heritage sites after an 80-year-old mansion in Sinying District (新營) was demolished on Saturday last week.

The colonial-style house, owned by members of a family surnamed Kuo (郭), on Sept. 25 was put on a watchlist for potential heritage sites threatened by development, agency director Lin Chiao-pin (林喬彬) said.

The decision was made after a preliminary evaluation by experts determined that the building had cultural and historical value, he said.

At the time, each family member with a legal claim to the house had indicated that they would sell to buyers with an interest in preserving the mansion as a heritage site, Lin said.

Despite their statements, the family apparently decided to demolish the house without notice before the agency could refer the site to the heritage evaluation committee, he said.

The city government is shocked and appalled by the act, which it condemns, Lin added.

The Enforcement Rules of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法施行細則) do not specify any penalty for destroying a site that is on the list pending committee actions, Lin said.

The agency has changed its policy and will henceforth consider all sites on the watchlist as having been referred to the committee, he said.

The new regulations stipulate prison sentences from six months to five years — commutable to a fine of NT$500,000 to NT$20 million (US$16,142 to US$645,682) for developers or owners who destroy a site on the watchlist, he said.

In related news, the Sinhua Community Development Association on Tuesday issued a call for help to preserve historical artifacts in Tainan’s Sinhua District (新化) after the owner of the former Hueisheng Clinic began renovating the site, which is to be turned into an arcade.

The clinic, which closed about a decade ago, was part of an art deco complex built in the 1920s on Zhongzheng Road, and the city government in July declared a historical district in the area, the association said.

Photographs of the site provided by the association showed that much of the interior had been demolished.

Association director-general Hsu Ming-yang (許明揚) said he is trying to locate space to temporary store antique furniture and medical equipment from the clinic.

The arcade would be the second to open at the expense of old storefronts on the street, Hsu said.

“People want to talk about creating places of interest, but what is left for us to make of this place?” he said.

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