Pattaya tries kinder, gentler tactic with Naklua encroachers

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Deputy Mayor Vichien Pongpanit.
Deputy Mayor Vichien Pongpanit.

Pattaya officials took a gentler approach with Naklua residents encroaching on the Nokyang Canal, asking, instead of threatening, to get them to demolish structures blocking the vital flood-control waterway.

Deputy Mayor Vichien Pong­­panit chaired a July 6 meeting with Chonglom Community residents, the Provincial Waterworks Authority and Chonburi Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Pattaya earlier issued demolition orders for 91 houses and cited an additional 25, saying all were built on top of or partly obstructed the public canal, worsening flooding in the area. They were given 15 days to remove their structures or face legal action and demolition by the city.

More than 60 homeowners countered with a formal appeal with Chonburi Province and the appeals committee ruled that they are part of a permanent community with official registration numbers and legal public utilities that are funded through the Pattaya City budget. Therefore, the committee said, removing these homes could cause a major adverse impact on the community.

On June 17, Vichien appeared to ignore the appeals to Chonburi and another to Pattaya’s mayor, saying the city would continue with plans to demolish 20 apartment buildings encroaching on the Nokyang canal. Those plans apparently have been put on hold.

A kinder, gentler deputy mayor was on display at last week’s meeting, with Vichien asking for cooperation. He said apartments totaling 79 rooms owned by 20 individuals need to be demolished urgently.

Many of the property owners are complying, he said, but there are a few holdouts.

Vichien this time did not set a deadline, but submitted a formal letter to the Chonglom Community asking for its help in convincing the holdouts to comply.

Pattaya also is negotiating with Chonglom Temple to have an encroaching wall removed.