Crisis hits Miriam Vale Shire Council
By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
A DECISION to delegate certain development applications to the chief executive officer of Miriam Vale Shire Council has raised serious concerns among a number of developers.
The recommendation raised cautions from councillors Josie Meng and Ray Morrison.
In recent months several developers have locked horns with council's planning department over conditions placed on their development applications.
This comes amid revelations the current CEO, Greg Powell, has been convicted of three charges of fraud while working with Broome Shire Council in Western Australia.
Council is facing possible investigation by the Criminal Misconduct Commission (CMC) following serious complaints made by ratepayers and developers.
At the council meeting one developer challenged council on its use of a standard employed in the United States in respect of boat trailer parking at marinas.
He said the standard did not apply to his multi-unit development. Another developer objected to a condition requiring him to plant a buffer area in front of his complex with native vegetation to provide 100 per cent cover from the road within 12 months of planting.
This developer told council native vegetation could not grow in that timeframe cited, and screening the shops from the road would be economically counterproductive.
Developers of an existing business, given approval to set up a licensed hotel with a small stage, were told they would not be able to conduct live entertainment.
It was pointed out the condition made the stage redundant, and that no hotel elsewhere would be burdened in such a way.
Cr Morrison raised concern about delegating duties to the CEO saying the move could mean 'there will be no need for councils''.
Cr Meng wanted re-assurance councillors would still be able to pass on concerns raised with them by residents.
Mr Powell told councillors "there will still be other things that councillors will have to do'.
'You (councillors) will still have to go through the information process, although it might need a bit more scrutiny,' he said.
Mr Powell said some of the benefits of delegating the duties were that it would speed up application assessments, improve council compliance with statutory timeframes and reduce complaints.
The recommendation was passed with Cr Meng expressing 'reluctance' at the decision. Cr Morrison's vote was recorded in the negative.
Initial information received by The Observer is that there is nothing unusual in the recommendation as it appears in the council's agenda, and is a measure employed by other council's to speed up the application process.
However, The Observer has been told council should have taken the potential CMC investigation into consideration before adopting the recommendation.