Cabinet Minister’s building plan opposed

A business couple has opposed a plan by the family of a Cabinet Minister to build a two-storey building behind their newly opened supermarket at Vailima.

In the Supreme Court, Komisi and Sala Lupe Chan Mow, rejected an application to lift an interim injunction issued against the construction of the residential property belonging to the family of the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang.

The interim injunction was issued by the Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu, in December 2018. The family of the Cabinet Minister wants the injunction lifted so they can proceed with the project. 

The dispute, which is separate from a civil lawsuit between the same parties in relation to the location of the new Myna’s Supa-mart at Vailima, was before Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren, on Thursday.

The Minister’s family was represented by lawyer, Muriel Lui while Sala Josephine Stowers represented the Komisi and Sala Chan Mow.

Ms. Lui is fighting for the interim injunction to be lifted immediately.

But Sala Stowers argued that the application to lift the interim order should be dismissed. 

She cited the current proceedings before the Supreme Court pertaining to the supermarket being built without due compliance with the PUMA Act. 

“The respondents are challenging the validity of the applicant’s development consent for the current development,” Sala told the Court."

“The building of the applicants two-storey residential building behind his supermarket will continue to add nuisance to the respondents if allowed.” 

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Sala maintained that her clients have a valid argument when it comes to the obstruction of their view, airspace and lighting. She said these are all to be considered for any development as stipulated by section 63 of the PUMA Act. 

“The respondents also raised issues about their health in the legal action before the Supreme Court noting the health impacts on them,” the lawyer said. 

But Ms. Lui disagreed. She argued that the Lee Hangs did in fact acquire the permit, which was granted for the construction of their family residence, located behind the Supermarket. 

“They (Chan Mows) allege in their claim they suffer nuisance issues because of the Supermarket and that is because it is located besides their building; I understand that, however the residential property is separate location from the supermarket,” Ms. Lui said. 

She disputed claims by the couple on health, saying they have nothing to worry about when it comes to the residential property.

“Also the respondents keep talking about their certain rights to a view from their land, but there is no legal right and they haven’t pointed to one,” Ms. Lui said. 

“I get their main claim against the residential property is that it may block a potential view from their land, but there is no such law against my clients in terms of blocking the views.” 

The lawyer noted that to stop someone from building on their own land as it may affect their future plans or future view is highly unreasonable. 

“The applicant was the first to build on his land and if the respondent is late to the table then that is too bad for them. 

“There is no legal requirement to reserve a view for them, or wait until they build. Another option is that they could build higher to get their view.”

She also reminded the Court that the supermarket and the residential property are two separate developments, with separate development consent permits.

“To rely on the alleged impact of the supermarket to support their claims against the residential property is invalid,” said Ms. Lui. 

Justice Tafaoimalo has adjourned the matter to a date that has been disclosed for her decision. 

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