Recently a Sydney mayor was asked by the press why his council had allowed a development owned by the deputy mayor to grossly exceed the normal height limit.
The mayor’s reply was that the relevant planning report recommending in favour of the development had been undertaken by an ‘independent consultant’, so all was obviously well.
Sound familiar? That’s precisely what happened locally in relation to Cr Hunter’s DA for a ‘road transport terminal’. Council staff claimed that they were obliged to engage an outside consultant to avoid a perception of bias in terms of assessing Cr Hunter’s DA.
That’s incorrect; it was actually up to elected councillors to decide whether staff should assess his DA in the normal way or to farm it out to a consultant, but councillors weren’t told of this.
Never mind the dubious process, however. What I’m on about here is that Cr Hunter’s DA, which he (supposedly) prepared himself, was, in my opinion, short of information on a range of issues in a way that other applicants would be taken to task for.
The Ballina consultant, despite these defects, recommended in favour of Cr Hunter’s proposal.
Council staff did not mention them when they presented the consultant’s report to Council. Elected councillors? They swallowed it hook, line and sinker, of course.
I can still see Cr Richardson’s face as he smiled at Cr Hunter after they voted in favour. His smile said, ‘See, we Greens aren’t so bad’. Chump Central.
Anyway the reason I’m regurgitating all this now is that in July I finally lodged my DA for conversion of my MO to Community Title, and guess what? I’ve received a letter from Environmental Health demanding ‘verification’ of the contamination status of my land. That’s funny; no such demand was issued to Cr Hunter, even though his application mentioned the subject, ie no information whatsoever was provided.
‘Like treatment in like situations is fundamental to the proper administration of planning law.’ Interestingly the council officer who signed the letter to me also had a dig at my consultant for not following the consultant’s guidelines as put out by some bureaucracy or other.
Let’s find out just how strongly our GM is committed to reducing legal costs. I’m not the bending-over type and over the years my back has become more and more rigid.
Fast Buck$, Coorabell