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URA Out of Order
URA Threatens Town Planning Board and Staunton Residents

The owners of private properties at Staunton Street are shocked by the threats from the URA to the Town Planning Board as reported in today’s papers. The URA has reportedly decided to Judicially Review the Board to prevent the removal of private property from the URA scheme.

Spokesman Dare Koslow considered this typical of the URA

“The URA is so insensitive to protection of private rights and proper procedures, and now it is threatening the Town Planning Board.”

“They threaten individual landowners with the compulsory purchase of their property if they don’t agree to sell. They force people out of their property for no reason other than to sell to big developers to build out of scale development.”

“We, as a group of land owners have presented a reasonable alternative approach to retain our rights and to keep the character of the area, and now the URA wants a public fight with the independent Town Planning Board. Surely the URA should follow the law and proper procedures?”

The Town Planning Board considered an application from the owners on the 24 July and deferred making a decision requesting further information. The hearing has to be reconvened to conclude the process.

The application to remove the private properties from the URA scheme was supported by legal opinion for the applicants that showed they had a right to be heard and that the Board should take account of the facts when making a decision. This view was supported by legal advice from the URA’s Counsel and from the Department of Justice.

The applicants were able to show to the Board that :-

• Some of the existing properties had been refurbished by the owners and had been improved to a good standard so that the URA process was no longer necessary;
• There was no ‘public interest’ reason for the URA taking over the ownership rights of the existing owners and selling the land on to a developer;
• The URA did not have an approved Master Layout Plan for the development of the site;
• The URA had purchased properties on the open market within the area and were therefore subject to the same risks as other property owners when rezoning takes place. They could always re-sell them on the market.

Koslow said

“The Town Planning Ordinance gives citizens rights of application and appeal and we will use those rights to the extent that the law allows. When the Town Planning Board decides to change the zoning it provides the URA with a right to object to that zoning. Why can’t the URA follow the usual legal process just like normal citizens rather than threatening legal action before a final decision is even made?”

“To threaten the Town Planning Board beforehand is totally out of order. They are trying to unduly influence its decision. We can also Judicially Review the Board if it acts improperly, and if the URA continues like this it may be providing all the ammunition we need.”

“However, it might be even better for the public if the URA and the Town Planning Board battled it out in court and a judge decided how the rights of the small citizen should be protected from the URA process, which is so obviously out-dated.”

Ends

For further information contact :

Dare Koslow
Sawada Wong

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