Milbi plan back after rejection

COUNCILLORS will be asked to consider the controversial proposal to extend the Milbi Farm indigenous detox centre for a fifth time tomorrow - raising the possibility that their decision to reject the planning application could be sensationally reversed.

Campaigners against the application thought they had won a long battle when councillors voted five to four against a recommendation of planning officers two weeks ago.

But Mayor Brad Carter says the way the matter was dealt with left loose ends which had to be tied up tomorrow.

Cr Carter, who is a strong supporter of the Milbi application, missed the crucial vote because he was in the Czech Republic presenting Rockhampton's submission to the LivCom Awards judges.

He says if he had been in Rockhampton the vote would have been tied at five-five and he would have used his casting vote to approve Milbi's plan to expand accommodation and formalise its status as an institutional residence.

He explained that in rejecting the advice of planning officers, the council had a legal obligation to list its reasons for refusal, and that wasn't done after the dramatic council chamber cliffhanger.

“Technically we can't ask the same officers who recommended approval to prepare the documents explaining why it was rejected,” he said.

“It will be up to the councillors themselves to draft the reasons and so the issue will come up for discussion again.”

The Milbi application split the council and sparked hours of debate.

Campaigners against the plan told councillors of a catalogue of incidents involving drunken episodes, trespass and intimidation.

They argued that the initial planning permission for the farm had been breached almost from the start and there was no valid permission for the operation.

But during a site visit to the centre, Milbi representatives explained their work with people who were addicted to illegal substances and gambling.

The centre has been working with clients for more than 20 years and is funded by state agencies to carry out rehabilitation projects.

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