Selayang Council defied the DOE

(The Sun Daily) – The Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) defied objections from the Selangor Department of Environment (DOE) in giving the go-ahead for the controversial development of the Dolomite Park Avenue project in Batu Caves in 2007.

Even before the land was cleared for development, the council had been alerted to the geological and natural sensitivity of the nearby limestone hills and surrounding areas.

Yet, the council chose to ignore such views which are critical when approving development projects.

A copy of the DOE letter to the council dated Jan 24, 2007 has been made available to theSun.

In the letter, which was copied to the developer, the DOE identified the problems and justified its stand on the project.

The key phrase in that letter read: “Jabatan ini tidak menyokong pembangunan di atas memandangkan ianya berpotensi menimbulkan tanah runtuh dan sebagainya.” (This department does not support this development as it has the potential to create landslides and other problems.)

However, the DOE said that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not necessary as the development covers about 3ha – far below the minimum area of 50ha required by the law.

The council had consulted nine related agencies to provide their input on the proposed development. Even the Geosciences and Minerals Department (JMG) had its reservations and asked that five conditions be fulfilled (see box).

Despite such strong objections, the council gave the go-ahead and approved the construction of 18 units of three-storey shop lots and two tower blocks – one of 25-storeys and another of 29.

The construction of the shop lots has since been completed, some of which have been sold and occupied. 

According to planning experts, the mere construction without the developer having met the conditions, especially in the wake of the “non-support” from the DOE, should have dissuaded the council from issuing any development order.

The developer, Dolomite Industries Company Sdn Bhd, submitted its plans to the council in June 2006.

In an unprecedented move, within four weeks, the council sought the views of nine government agencies – unusual for councils which usually take months to get files moving.

The Selangor Town Planning Department in a letter dated Aug 25 stated it had no objection as the development “had potential to be incorporated in the overall development of the neighbourhood”(see chronology).

Having received feedback from the agencies, including the reservations from both the DOE and JMG, the One-Stop Centre (OSC) committee, which had been set up by the council, approved the project in a meeting on Sept 27, 2007.

It is not immediately known if the comments from these two departments were considered, but according to documents made available to theSun, three councillors – Datuk Raja Paduka Wan Mahmood Pa’wan Teh, Yuszahari Mohd Yusoff and Soohaimi Abd Rahman – attended the meeting together with representatives from the departments of the council.

Conspicuously present were chief clerks of the Planning and Buildings Divisions.

All decisions made by the various sub-committees of the council including the OSC have to be endorsed at the council’s full board meeting which is attended by all 24 appointed-councillors.

It is not known when the council met but on Nov 30, 2007, council president Datuk Zainal Abidin Azim wrote to Dolomite enclosing the Development Order.