Hearings on the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project should be opened up to allow all affected landowners and interested parties to participate, Taoyuan residents from the Alliance Against Aerotropolis Forced Evictions said yesterday.
About 10 campaigners protested outside the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, presenting to ministry officials a pile of petitions asking for permission to participate in official preparatory hearings on the first phase of the project, which are scheduled to begin on Saturday.
“There are still many interested parties who will be affected by the Aerotropolis and who will not have the opportunity to participate in Saturday’s hearings,” alliance spokesperson Wang Pao-hsuan (王寶萱) said, adding that owners of property to be expropriated under the project’s scheduled second phase had not been invited.
If implemented, the planned Aerotropolis project would add a third runway to the Taoyuan International Airport, while developing land near the airport through two separate phases of “zone expropriation,” under which the government uses public domain powers to redistribute land ownership within a zone to encourage development.
Wang said that second-phase landowners were interested parties because they were already included in government plans and would be forbidden from building on their land if the project is approved. Area home owners and lease-holders should also be invited, she said.
Environmental Jurists Association director Thomas Chan (詹順貴) said that planning for the project should “start from scratch” in light of a new Council of Grand Justice ruling on land expropriation.
A ruling last week on Taipei’s MeHAS City project (美河市) found that infrastructure needs could be used only to expropriate land strictly necessary for constructing infrastructure, not related development projects.
“Currently, this case is using the third runway [for the Taoyuan International Airport] as an excuse to plan the Aerotropolis,” he said. “This clearly a development project that includes all sorts of industrial and business parks, as well as residential districts — it is fundamentally about land speculation.”
He called for reconsideration of whether the runway was necessary and would serve the public interest.
Local landowner Hsu Tu (徐土) said he is concerned that government compensation for expropriated land would not match its market value and called for land-owners to be allowed to opt out of “zone expropriation” development plans.
In response, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) cited conclusions reached at the urban planning committee of the Ministry of the Interior on July 29 last year in which the land reserved for the second-phase development of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project can only be expropriated if 60 percent of the land in the first-phase area has been used for commercial purposes.
The CAA said that it is still uncertain when the land expropriation plan for the first-phase area could be activated, and the ownership of the properties in the second-phase area might change as well. As such, it said it only notified owners of the lands located within the first-phase area.
Should the need to start expropriating land in the second-phase area arise, the CAA said it would see if the owners of the land at that time have different thoughts about the expropriation plan, adding that it would follow the lawful procedures to acquire the land.
According to CAA, 24 preparatory meetings are to be held spanning six weekends prior to the official administrative hearing for the farmland expropriation plan, with the first to begin this week.
The CAA also said that more than 20,000 land owners or relevant stakeholders would be invited to attend the preparatory meetings, which would be simultaneously held in four different locations within the first-phase area.
The CAA said that these meetings would be presided over by experts who are not affiliated with the CAA, who would examine all the controversial issues on the expropriation plan so that they can be discussed at the hearing.
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