Proposed hearing procedures for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis development project have procedural flaws that threaten their validity, several legal academics said yesterday.
The Taoyuan Aerotropolis project is the nation’s largest ever urban planning project, encompassing 3,155 hectares as part of a proposal to add a third runway to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and to develop the surrounding area.
Plans for massive land appropriation have made the project controversial, with critics saying they could jeopardize the rights of small land owners.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is to hold hearings focusing on the runway expansion next month and in May, while the Taoyuan City Government would hold parallel hearings on land development plans.
Chen Li-fu (陳立夫), a professor of land economics at National Chengchi University, questioned the efficacy of the ministry hosting the hearings, as it is not directly responsible for land appropriation for the project.
“The legislative intent [of the Administrative Procedure Act (行政程序法)] is clearly that the agency which is responsible for making decisions should be the one to hold hearings. However, it is the Ministry of Transportation and Communications that will be holding hearings on the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project, even though the agency responsible for deciding land appropriations is the Ministry of the Interior,” he said.
Chen expressed doubt whether the hearings would be able to incorporate residents’ opinions into the decisionmaking process.
He also questioned whether notifications for the hearings had reached the standards required by residents’ “right to be informed,” with a knowledge of how their interests might be affected so that they could fully exercise their rights.
“Notifications to attend the hearings in reality do not mention the plans or content for land expropriation,” he said.
Tai Hsiu-hsiung (戴秀雄), a professor of land economics at National Chengchi University, said the detailed, technical nature of urban planning makes it difficult to curb urban planners’ broad discretion by forcing them to include residents’ views.
“You cannot legislate exactly where a road should be built,” he said, adding that while legislation could force the government to hold additional hearings, residents have limited tools other than litigation to ensure their views are taken into consideration.
The forum was hosted by the National Taiwan University College of Law’s Public Law Research Center, the Environmental Jurists Association, Taiwan Association of Human Rights and several academic and civic organizations.
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