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Byron Shire
February 4, 2023

Councillor takes Council to court

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Councillor Alan Hunter is taking council to court.
Councillor Alan Hunter is taking council to court.

There’s a new chapter to a seemingly neverending drama revolving around National Party-aligned councillor Alan Hunter’s battle to operate a self-storage facility on his rural Myocum property.

Neighbours who share the short, narrow rural road have campaigned strongly over many years with claims of multiple breached consent conditions and a lack of enforcement by Council staff.

Cr Hunter is now taking Council to the Land and Environment Court over his latest development application (DA), which was refused on December 15, 2016.

The Class 1 Application (appeal) by Cr Hunter relates to the DA for ‘Storage premises, including use of three farm buildings and addition of twelve self-storage units, relocated from road transport terminal.’

Compliance action suspended

Council’s legal services co-ordinator Ralph James emailed neighbour Rebecca Chaffer on March 29 and said that owing to Cr Hunter’s court challenge, Council policy directs a suspension of compliance actions against his development activity.

Mr James said, ‘In this matter, Council has applied its discretion to not take enforcement action until the Land and Environment Court makes a decision.’

The Echo understands that the April 3 hearing was a ‘directions’ hearing and the case will be heard around June. Staff are yet to reply to a request by The Echo for the statement of claim, which outlines the reasons Cr Hunter is taking Council to court.

Mrs Chaffer also told The Echo Mr Hunter ‘has submitted an s96 application to delete the two-year consent period for his ‘Road Transport Terminal.’

‘What a sneaky way of trying to get a DA through! I suspect it would be difficult for him to put another DA in and try to convince everyone that it will be used to store “bulk goods” for manufactures etc as he did last time – and not self-storage.’

The Echo reported on August 3 last year that neighbours were surprised to learn that Cr Hunter was operating legally; they believed that Cr Hunter’s trial had expired in May and say they were not advised by staff that his trial had ended and were unaware it automatically became a legitimate operation.

Council staff told The Echo at the time his development application consent ‘ceases two years after the commencement of operations.’

Policy weakness

The two-year trial was criticised at the time by neighbours for being approved despite no traffic or noise assessment, and because the DA did not meet Council’s traffic sight or stopping-distance requirements.

But Cr Hunter defended his operation, claiming at the time that a self-storage facility fell within the definition of the statewide Local Environment Plan (LEP) template, which states a self-storage facility falls within a Road Transport Terminal definition.

The Echo also asked Cr Hunter on what grounds he is appealing councillors’ decision, but no reply was given by deadline.

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  1. I think Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald were operating legally for years and years in the State Labour Party.
    Or rather, no one was prepared to call them out. It is quite funny now to watch a string of past Premiers say that these two were always crooks. It they knew then, why the hell didn’t they do anything about it?

  2. What the heck has Cr Hunter’s interest in the National Party to do with this application?

    So if a green made an application, it would be noted in the media. I think not!

    Typical ‘unbiased’ media report!


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