Mayor slams developer’s ‘inappropriate’ lobbying
CAIRNS Regional Council mayor Val Schier has slammed as “inappropriate lobbying” approaches made on behalf of Newcastle developer Jeff McCloy to councillors ahead of last week’s ordinary council meeting.
The 11 councillors narrowly gave preliminary approval to a major sub-division by Mr McCloy at Wonga Beach, while approving the building of a house, local utility, display home and sales office.
The block has the potential to be split into about 140 blocks if a “community effluent disposal system or similar alternative means is to be installed in association with any development proposal”.
The council’s endorsement of the proposal went against its own planning scheme and state policies regarding sensitive wetland areas for the 39ha subdivision.
It also contradicts council and state policies governing the use of rural land and the development of Wonga Beach.
In the days before the application was voted on by council, Newcastle-based developer Jeff McCloy’s daughter Louise met with several councillors.
During those meetings, Ms McCloy brought up a previous dispute her father had with former Douglas Shire Council mayor Mike Berwick.
Mayor Val Schier said she did not meet with anyone associated with the proposed development prior to voting on it.
“An approach was made to meet with me. I did not take up that offer,” she said.
“I felt the lobbying not an appropriate way for the applicant to present their case.
“While I am personally concerned about the decision made by council, what we need to do now is ensure the conditions are stringently applied.”
Division 5 councillor Alan Blake explained his reasons for voting in support of the development application.
“It was a preliminary approval, which allows both developer and council to further investigate the situation before coming back for final approval,” he said.
“We placed a range of conditions on the development. That’s the way we do business.”
’Inappropriate’: Mayor Val Shier speaks out