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Land conversion shatters dream
07/01/2009 NST By Halim Said

Yong (left) and Ng at the lane behind their houses. The vacant land there is slated for industrial development.

SHAH ALAM: When Steven Yong purchased his double-story house last October at a luxury housing scheme in Subang Galaksi in Section U5 here, he thought it would be his dream house.

But his dream was shattered when he learned that the vacant land behind his house has been earmarked for industrial development.

"I only got to know this when I received a notice from Shah Alam city council in late October, wanting to know if I had any objection to the conversion of the land to commercial status," said Yong, 30.

He said the notice stated that an application has been made by Sohock Sdn Bhd and Garden Build Sdn Bhd to convert the open space in Section U5 for industrial and commercial use.

Yong said if the land-use conversion was approved "there will be all sorts of pollution -- air, noise, traffic congestion."

He added: "Our security is also threatened as more people, including foreigners, will stay and work here."

The house-buyers have set up an action committee to object to the conversion.

Another house buyer Ng Chee Chong, 42, said: "We were told when we bought the properties that we would be surrounded by residential units. But I do not blame my developers as the vacant land does not belong to them."

At the vacant lot are two Shah Alam city council notices and a request for any objection by residents to any development on the land.

A house-buyer, identified only as Lim, said he was astonished that some of the residents who went to the city council planning department to ask about the project, were shown an A3-size drawing.

"When we asked for more information, we were told that there was no other information than that drawing. We sent a legal letter to the council and only then did they release the study report to us, which is crucial for us to make our objections," he said.

Lim is also angry that the notice to object was only served to residents living within a 20-metre radius from the land in question.

"There are 175 houses here and only 33 owners got the notice. Some owners did not receive it while others were sent to vacant houses still under constructions. Most shockingly, the objection letters came to us five days before the deadline," he said.

Lim said the council had published a notice in the newspapers between Dec 1 and Dec 3 last year on the land conversion and gave Dec 12 as the deadline for objections.

"But we were told by the planning department that our objections do not count as we live outside the 20-metre radius. This is unfair. As neighbouring house buyers, we are also affected," he said.

Lim said the council has fixed a public hearing for the objection of the development on Wednesday at the council office.

Shah Alam city council public relations officer Shahrin Ahmad said: "We have served the notices to owners within the 20-metre radius and they are allowed to object.

For those outside the perimeter, their objections can be raised through a residents' representative who would voice the objection in the public hearing."

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