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Friday June 20, 2008

There are enough commercial buildings in Taipan, say USJ 6 residents

RESIDENTS of USJ 6 were loud and clear in their objection to the proposed construction of a nine-storey office tower in their area during a hearing held recently.

The proposed construction was on a piece of land belonging to TM Facilities. The plot, indicated as Lot 22395, is within Telekom Malaysia's telecommunication exchange premises in Persiaran Perpaduan in USJ 6.

The project is a joint venture between TM Facilities and developer Pujangga Budiman Sdn Bhd, which would build the office block with two levels of basement car park.

Making a point: Ismail (in yellow, centre) explaining to residents that priority to attend the hearing was given to those who had filed their objections. On his right is Yeoh.

After the developer had filed an official application to develop the land in April this year, residents living within a 20m radius of the proposed project site were invited by the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ), via a letter sent to them the same month, to file their objections.

More than 30 residents from the 42 houses within the 20m radius filed their objections, and were invited to attend the recent hearing.

However, not all the invited residents turned up due to the short notice. Also present to observe the hearing was Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh.

Reporters were not allowed in. MPSJ urban planning director Ismail Muhamad said he had to ensure the process followed the law, but that he would give details of the meeting after it ended. Chairing the hearing was MPSJ deputy president Mohamad Yusoff Ghazali.

Following the hearing, objection pro tem committee vice-chairman Philip Soong said the developer could only present information that the residents already knew, and was unable to substantiate its grounds for the proposed development.

“Our stand is that we are rejecting this entire project as we have enough commercial buildings in Taipan.

“The main road fronting this proposed project is just 900m in length, with four existing junctions, and we do not think traffic can be dispersed effectively if this office block comes up.

“It does not make sense to build something like this in a residential area.

“We were unhappy about the way Local Agenda (LA) 21 was initiated right from the planning stage because it defeats the perspective of LA 21 since the deal seems to be done,” Soong said, claiming that Mohamad Yusoff had said in his opening speech that all the relevant MPSJ departments had given the go-ahead to the project.

The total land area, he said, was 0.6ha and the plot to be developed was 0.35ha.

“As of now, Taipan is such a congested area, and this tower will only add to the spill-over of traffic. It will also create an acute shortage of parking spaces given that cars are already parked along the main road now.

“Residents cannot be made to suffer,” said Soong.

Mohamad Yusoff acknowledged that the written objections by residents were valid, and the points they raised were logical.

He said the developer's proposal had abided by the council's requirement, and the only thing missing was the traffic impact assessment.

Asked if the developer had previously submitted applications that were later rejected, he claimed that the developer had only made verbal enquiries at the planning department and this was the first time that it had submitted an official application.

“This is still a proposal; nothing has been approved yet. We needed to call for this hearing today so that residents could give their views, in accordance with LA 21.

“The residents' main concern is the congestion and noise,” he said.

Asked about the land status, Mohamad Yusoff said although in the original master plan of then Sime UEP it was stated as telecommunication purpose only, the current land title is for commercial use.

He said this issue would be tabled at the one-stop centre (OSC) this month to decide whether it should be approved or rejected. Although residents had voiced their concern over density, Mohamad Yusoff claimed that the developer had abided by the plot ratio.

“After the OSC, we will get the state planning committee to decide,” he added.

Yeoh commended the residents for being well prepared with their research and presentation.

She said they had presented their facts and figures well, and had even gone to the extent of noting down the number of cars that were parked opposite Taipan, near their housing area, so as to avoid paying parking charges.

“The density is very high for a housing area,” Yeoh said, referring to the project.

“I stand with the residents on this issue, and with the car park problem still unresolved, I will do what I can to put a stop to unsustainable projects.

“If this tower is built, we don't know the kind of tenants that will be brought in ... it could lead to more parking woes.

“There are ample shop lots in USJ, so do we need another development?” asked Yeoh.

She urged residents not to get worked up as it was still only a proposal, and explained that the council could not reject any proposals that were put to it, which was why it had called for the hearing.

She confirmed that the issue would be brought up at the OSC, then to the state, and the Appeals Board as the last resort, where both parties – the residents and developer – could make their appeal.

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