Coun­cil­lors warned of le­gal li­a­bil­ity

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY NEWS AND VIEWS -

WHIT­SUN­DAY Coun­cil­lors have been warned against ap­prov­ing a res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion in Bowen on the grounds that a de­ci­sion to do so could re­sult in le­gal ac­tion in the fu­ture.

The ad­vice of Coun­cil of­fi­cers was that the ap­pli­ca­tion by WS Group on be­half of Reibel Farms Pty Ltd had not demon­strated the de­vel­op­ment could pro­ceed safely given the cur­rent flood­ing regime in Bells Gully.

Coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Scott Wa­ters told yes­ter­day’s or­di­nary Coun­cil meet­ing in Proser­pine that his ad­vice to coun­cil­lors was that there was a sig­nif­i­cant risk of lit­i­ga­tion should some­thing go wrong.

Cr Jan Clif­ford said it was be­yond Coun­cil’s fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­ity to pro­vide the flood mit­i­ga­tion works that would be nec­es­sary to en­sure the de­vel­op­ment could safely go ahead.

Cr Kevin Collins raised the point that Coun­cil­lors could be held per­son­ally li­able in the event of lit­i­ga­tion. He said 30 years ago, Coun­cil ap­proved a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion which was now the sub­ject of le­gal ac­tion against the Coun­cil­lors of the day and not the cur­rent Coun­cil.

“If we vote against the rec­om­men­da­tion of a Coun­cil of­fi­cer it’s on our heads,” he said.

How­ever, Crs Dave Clark and Peter Ra­m­age ex­pressed con­cerns about “sti­fling de­vel­op­ment” in Bowen.

Whit­sun­day mayor Jennifer Whit­ney as­sured them that Coun­cil was act­ing in a non-bi­ased man­ner on a level play­ing field.

Cr An­drew Will­cox moved to ta­ble the mat­ter for more dis­cus­sion but this was de­feated by four votes to three and Coun­cil­lors even­tu­ally re­fused the prem­li­nary ap­proval by six votes to one.

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