It’s being jokingly called The Great Moo Moo Boo-boo by some locals, but the landowners aren’t laughing.
A family from the Tweed village of Mooball had their property mistakenly included in a grand subdivision plan, approved by shire planners and councillors and sent to the state government to determine – all without their knowledge.
The rare mistake has been described as an ‘oversight’ by the developers, their consultants and Tweed Shire Council planners in their rezoning proposal to boost the size of the sleepy village population at least tenfold, passed by councillors last December.
But a report going to council next Thursday detailing the stuff-up says talks between the family and the developers over the future of their house and land, including a buyout option, are ongoing and the planning department has retracted the plan after being alerted by council of the mistake.
Cr Gary Bagnall, stunned that the property was overlooked in all the planning and mapping processes carried out on the subdivision, had recently called for an investigation or an independent audit.
But general manager David Keenan and chief planner Vince Connell rejected the request.
Mr Connell in his report says both the proponent and his staff acknowledged the oversight in not identifying ownership of the property within the rezoning plan and had acted immediately with the family to try and resolve the problem.
Owners of several farms surrounding the village on the western side of the old highway are seeking to rezone hundreds of acres of grazing and farming land for a housing estate with a range different-sized lots, including including village and farm blocks.
The rezoning proposal was opposed by Crs Bagnall and Katie Milne who were concerned the subdivisions relied on the building of a privately funded, onsite sewage treatment plant and wastewater disposal scheme which ratepayers may eventually have to maintain.
They also said the rezoning plan was premature, with enough land in the shire already subdivided to cater for future growth.
In his previous report on the plan, Mr Connell said that because obtaining a licence to run the standalone system was a lengthy and costly process, the developer/landowners had requested the rezoning plan be advanced ahead of the licence ‘enabling the certainty of the rezoning prior to committing significant resources to a lengthy process’.
In the latest report, Mr Connell said council were notified by the owners of the small Lot B that they were not part of the ‘development party’ proposing the rezoning, ‘and to the contrary, disapprove of and have objected to the rezoning of their property’.
He said the additional property was included ‘by error in the preparation and drafting of the mapping in support of the developer’s request for a planning proposal and was not identified by Council staff’.
Mr Connell said there was no requirement for a council to seek or obtain the consent of a landowner when making a Local Environment Plan (LEP) amendment, but council’s own guidelines were not followed in terms of proper consultation with landowners.
‘The present case is a rare occurrence. The proponent has accepted there was a breakdown in communication within their project team, which led to Lot B being mistakenly identified and it is apparent from the written documentation that this was a genuine oversight,’ he said.
Mr Connell said the owners of Lot B did not consent to authorising the making of draft LEP and the ‘relevant form did not include the property description for Lot B or the owner’s consent’.
He said council staff had met with the landowners of Lot B and ‘further facilitated a meeting between them and the proponent’ where they ‘expressed their concern for their lifestyle and current standard of living should the rezoning proceed as proposed’.
Any future rezoning, Mr Connell said, could jeopardise the landowners ‘long-term hobby’ and activity of raising non-commercial poultry which are kept on the property for show purposes.
The landowner also owned an articulated heavy-goods vehicle, which is kept on the Tweed Valley Way road reserve, and that ‘would likely attract noise complaints from future residents and that a new storage location would need to be found’.
Mr Connell said the planning proposal should be suspended while the parties worked out ‘how they would like matters to proceed’.
‘Having regard to the steps taken to remedy the error in the planning proposal and process and the position the parties have been restored to it is considered that the project as whole is now back in line with Council’s practice and procedure guidelines,’ he said, adding that a further report to council would detail the outcome of any negotiations ‘or sustained objection’.
Cr Bagnall said he had seen the original developers’ plans which set out housing lots and streets where the Lot B owners’ ‘long driveway and their property, including their house are clearly marked’ but the ‘developer has drawn housing lots over the top of their road and property, which are easily seen’.
He said it was ‘extremely obvious and cannot be reasoned that anyone who has had anything to do with this proposal could have accidentally overlooked’ the property.