Claim council is biased
BUSINESSMAN Ken Hay is considering making a legal challenge to the way Rockhampton Regional Council has dealt with former mayor Margaret Strelow's application to open a social cafe across the road from his warehouse.
Mr Hay, one of a number of business owners objecting to the proposal, says he is likely to make a formal complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
"He wants an official inquiry into what he claims are serious breaches by the council of planning law.
He says the council was wrong to accept a second submission from Mrs Strelow after the closure date for submissions and comment.
No notification of this submission was given to submitters he says, so when a delegation of opponents addressed the council on April 12 they were relating to issues which had been superseded.
He further claims that he has been told that councillors met privately on the Monday before the council meeting to thrash out a position to seek a further independent report to provide conditions which would allow the application to be approved.
He also alleges that it is unprecedented for the council to pay for such a report when its own planning officers have recommended refusal and claims that Mrs Strelow has received such favourable treatment only because of her continuing influence over councillors by virtue of her status as a former mayor.
“This is an entirely inappropriate use of ratepayers' money and there should be an investigation by the CMC,” he said.
“There is something very wrong about the way this has been conducted.
"Are we expected to believe that the council would offer every planning application such leeway?
"We will be seeking legal advice to get our costs back.”
One further contention is that Mrs Strelow's submission contained only hand-drawn plans that are clearly marked “not to scale”.
He says it is a condition of the Sustainable Planning Act that for plans to be considered they must be professionally drawn to scale.
The application should never have been accepted, he argues.
As a result of this error, he says, councillors overlooked that the building does not comply with the building code in respect of the height of the interior.
Mr Hay says documents submitted in support of the application said there would be no external changes to the existing building.
But he argues that if it is to comply with Australian regulations there will have to be significant alterations.
“I would ask Mrs Strelow to open up the place to the submitters, councillors, the media and public and show how this building can comply with the building code.
“If she can show that it does, I will withdraw my objection and donate $10,000 of my own money to a nominated charity.
“That's how confident I am that it can't be compliant,” he said.