Taipei City officials order hot spring resort well to be sealed

Taipei City officials order hot spring resort well to be sealed

TAIPEI - Taipei City officials issued documents detailing water usage violations to owners of "Villa 32" yesterday, following complaints from area residents.

Officials stated that while operators of the resort had obtained permits to use white and blue sulfur hot spring water from the Taipei Water Department, they did not obtain legal permits to dig wells.

According to the Taipei City Government Department of Economic Development, violations to Article 32 of the "Hot Springs Act" will result in fines of NT$50,000. The city has given operators of the villa until 5 p.m. on Saturday to seal the well.

Well Used Only for Scenic Purposes: 'Villa 32'

The CEO of "Villa 32" Liu Min-an said that the well in question was used for scenic decoration only, and not as a source of hot spring water.

Responding to the city's orders, Liu replied that when the villa was being constructed initially, the well opening was small and was not used for hot spring water. He said he had not received written documentation from the city, but would take appropriate action within three days.

Increased Scrutiny over Illegal Improvements

Following allegations of building code violations of "Villa 32" involving illegal improvements, officials from Taipei City's Construction Management Office arrived at the premises of the property to investigate the matter.

The section leader of the investigative group reported that "Villa 32" had three areas of illegal improvements dating back to 2005, totaling 67 ping (approximately 221 square meters). Yesterday's investigations listed an additional 56 ping (approximately 184.8 square meters) of the first and third floors of the structure to be illegal constructions.

Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je, who threatened to demolish the villa Wednesday if it violated building codes, resolved swift action on the matter and other cases concerning illegal building improvements. Ko said that the city's failure to dismantle illegal improvements was a reflection of government "impotence."

"Because these structures aren't dismantled, the government has no credit with the people. This must be tackled," he added.

Operators of "Villa 32" have 20 days to comply with existing building codes.

CEO Liu said that the management would remove the illegal additions, and said plans were in place to make the property comply completely with building regulations.

He also indicated that customers affected during the building renovation period would be refunded. He also denied allegations that the proprietors pressured city councilors to prevent earlier dismantling of the villa's illegal improvements.

"Villa 32" is a Beitou based resort run by the family of Lieutenant Colonel Lao Nai-cheng's wife Chiu Ya-ching.

Lao is currently at the centre of an unfolding military scandal involving unauthorized tours of an Apache helicopter of the Army Special Forces 601st Brigade.

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