GEORGE TOWN, April 13 — The Penang Appeals Board ordered the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) today to pay RM35,000 in total costs after telling it off for appealing against the board’s stay order over a high rise project in Tanjung Pinang off Tanjung Tokong.
The board chairman Datuk Yeo Yang Poh ordered MBPP to pay costs of RM20,000 to the appellants and RM15,000 to the planning applicant.
“The board has powers to grant stay orders as provided under Section 23(3) and Section 36(10)(g) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1976,” he said as he rejected MBPP’s submissions that the board did not have the power to order a stay.
The board had granted the appellants, consisting of residents of Seri Tanjung Pinang, a stay order on the planning permission for the project, City Of Dreams, which is made of two 39-storey condominium blocks.
MBPP, in its appeal against the stay order, submitted that the board did not have the power to grant stay orders.
It also argued that the board did not need to take public interest into account when making such decisions.
Yeo labelled the council’s submission that the board do not need to take public interest into account as “absurd”.
“It defies common sense as matters of public interest is certainly relevant in the function of the board,” he said.
He said all aspects of the planning law was in the interest of the public and that it was the board’s responsibility to take into account public interest.
He pointed out that the issue of the board not having the power to grant stay orders based on public interest has never been raised since its formation in 1989.
“I am surprised that the respondent as a public authority could take up such an issue and present such points without putting enough work in it,” he said.
Yeo criticised MPPP’s arguments, saying the council did not appear to have made any effort to understand the case before submitting an appeal against the stay order.
“It is worrying that the respondent doesn’t seem to understand what transpired in this case,” he said.
He said the council’s pursuit of the case does not sit well with its role as a public authority especially when it has a duty to safeguard public interest.
Yeo later extended the stay order against the planning permission until the next decision date to be fixed later.
The planning applicant, Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd, is only allowed to do piling works and works necessary for piling for the project.
It had initially obtained planning approval for the project in March 2015 before the board granted the appellants a stay order against the project late last year.