KOTA KINABALU 3/11/2012: A group of residents of Signal Hill here are up in arms over the failure of Kota Kinabalu City Hall to show to them the approved development plan of the ongoing 13-storey condominium project next to their houses.
Their spokesperson, Ratna Seri Arif, said the developer of the condominium project had put up a sign, brought in heavy equipment and started work on the site and yet the mayor had not written to them to explain what was happening in their backyard for the past two months.
“We do not believe that the developer has all the necessary approvals for the development because the City Hall does not have the development plan with every other approval such as Environmental Impact Assessment report, traffic study and many other information for public consumption.
“We have written to the City Hall, but it has failed to show any approval for the project. It is ironic because the developer has started work two months ago. Is that legal for the developer to start work before any approval was given by the relevant authorities?” asked Ratna in a press conference yesterday.
When the Draft Kota Kinabalu City Plan 2020 was exhibited for public inspection, a number of different residents objected to the land use zone for the land as Medium Density is not appropriate for Signal Hill.
They were called to the public hearing and to their surprise when City Hall told them that it could not do anything about the approval of the development which followed a rezoning of that piece of land only from Residential (A) to Residential (B) back in 1994.
“However, if that is the case then why is it that the Local Plan on public display at the Directory Tower and Regional Planning Department’s office as Wisma Tun Fuad shows the land is still zoned for Ridge Conservation Area. What is going on? Who is telling the truth?
“Don’t residents of this city deserve to hear the truth from the City Hall, especially the mayor and his town planners? None of the residents could recall being consulted or issued a notice of a rezoning of the land. Is there any notice?” added Ratna.
She questioned how it was possible that a 13-storey building has got an approval to be built right next to their houses.
Ratna also said the mayor was quoted as saying in a local newspaper that The Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020 had officially superseded the old draft Greater KK Scheme and other Local Plans such as the 1990 Local Plan.
But Ratna said the mayor could not let the people object and call for a public hearing but at the end of the day they turned around and said it was already approved.
“What is the point of having the public hearing if the concerns and public safety are not the priority for the City Hall.
“All the residents of Signal Hill are upset with the project but they are still hoping the relevant authorities will investigate the matter further and urgently rectify the situation without the need for further action.”
She said if the City Hall continued to give permission to build the condominium, the group would proceed to the next action, including legal.
“No one feels it is their right to prevent others, including their neighbours from making money, but rules are there for a purpose and we have a duty to protect Signal Hill for the next generation of city dwellers.
“We are not angry if our neighbours are building houses for their families, but this is a 13-storey condominium. Our houses do not pierce the skyline and stick out like a sore thumb, and we do not cause traffic jam at our neighbour’s doorstep. But this is not the case anymore.
“This development is so wrong in this location and the way in which the approval was granted is disappointing to say the least,” she added.
Also present at the press conference yesterday was former deputy chief minister Tan Sri Dr Herman Luping who is also one of the residents of Signal Hill.
Luping said he had asked the current mayor to use his power to stop the development work until a proper report had been given to the residents and available for public access. However, nothing was done.
“We do not want the Highland Towers disaster in Selangor to be repeated again. This is about our lives, especially when we are staying next to this project. We can hear the sound of the soil being pounded because it is very near to our houses.
“The noise is another issue but the most important thing is we are afraid that the structure of the soil would affect the houses and surrounding areas as we do not have access to the development plan,” he added.
by Mariah Doksil