Husband could pay price
MILLIONAIRE Peter van Lieshout's dreams of building a new "eco-village" west of Mt Warning could fall victim to the first round of any political bloodletting in the wake of his wife Joan's election as mayor of Tweed Shire.
Conservative councillors upset by Cr van Lieshout's decision to side with green-leaning councillors for their support in taking the role of mayor may themselves align with those councillors to push for stringent conditions on Mr Lieshout's pet project.
Mr van Lieshout has taken his development application for the Tweed Valley's first new village in more than 100 years to the NSW Land and Environment Court which has ordered the council to lodge a statement of intention this week.
Mr van Lieshout wants to establish an "economically sustainable" village for up to 1000 people on his acreage site near Kunghur which the council zoned for future village use in the 1980s.
But local residents have formed an action group to fight the plan.
While the court may make the final decision, the council is set to have a big input into what conditions apply and Mr van Lieshout has warned those could determine whether the project is viable.
Former mayor Warren Polglase and his conservative colleague Phil Youngblutt were infuriated by Cr van Lieshout's decision to side with green-leaning councillors to win the mayoralty, which Cr Polglase hoped to regain.
Cr Polglase however said he always voted according to the merit of a development and would not be bothered by people claiming he voted for other reasons.
"I always vote with a clear conscience," he said.
But he criticised Cr van Lieshout for putting herself in a position as mayor where she would be aware of confidential legal advice concerning the upcoming court case, even though she cannot vote on the matter.
"It's a very delicate situation for Joan to be involved with and she knew it was coming. People are already talking about it," he said.
Cr Youngblutt said he would want to know more about the development but assumed council officers, who have refused to give the project the green light for nearly three years, had solid grounds for any conditions they were seeking.