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The System Requiring Resident Agreement for New Construction Creates a Stir

The System Requiring Resident Agreement for New Construction Creates a Stir

Posted February. 07, 2002 09:36,   


The `resident opinion collecting system` (a system that requires the agreement of neighbor residents before requesting building permit), which Kangnam-ku, Seoul introduced in 1999 to alleviate public opposition to building permits is creating a stir.

The owners of buildings complained that this system, which is not subject to building regulations, extends the period for getting a building permit and creates many problems like providing neighbors with money or goods.

▽ What is resident opinion collecting system? = Kangnam-ku introduced the system in December 1999 to prevent public complaints anticipated in the process of construction by the authority of district superintendent. The building permit is not approved if there is no agreement of the owners of the house or building that is next to the building site. Although there are no related regulations in building laws, they cannot ignore the system as the district superintendent who has the authority to approve the permit oversees the system. This system was applied to all the requests for new construction at first, but reduced its scope to over 5 story buildings from June 2000 by the protests of developers.

▽ Nervous construction owners = Mr. Kim in Samsung-dong, who is building a 5-story building in a 70-pyong site for many families, spent 10 million won to secure an agreement for construction from the residents. He insisted that the plans met the construction standards such as right to sunshine and parking capacity, but residents trumped up charges saying `the building is too tall`.

Mr. Kim said, "5 months delay for building permit caused more damages than the money I provided residents for the agreement. Unnecessary administrative restrictions trouble only the developers."

▽Any measures? = The intervention of the `District Mediation Council for Public Complaints on Construction` which consists of civil and governmental experts, is the only avenue on which the developers can depend as they face difficulties in getting the building permit following the agreement. When the Council accepts the developer`s argument, he can secure a building permit without the agreement of the residents.

But the complaints that this Council can treat in a year are about 30 cases at the most, which is far less than the 2,000 cases that come up in the Kangnam-ku annually.

An official of Kangnam-ku said, "After this system was introduced, related public complaints decreased by 70 percent. As there are developers who deceive neighbors as well as residents who abuse the system, we are examining measures to specify the construction conditions on the agreement, and will hold the Council more often."

Jin-Hup Song jinhup@donga.com