Litigation slugs council


LEGAL costs faced by Tweed Shire Council are soaring because the council is embroiled in the highest number of legal wrangles with developers in years.

The council currently faces a dozen different court cases in the Land and Environment Court and Supreme Court.

Late last year the council added $80,000 to its budgeted amount of $170,000 for the financial year for court costs, but the swathe of cases could require more.

The council's planning director Noel Hodges said the number of cases was unusually high.

They include:

l Five cases involving Gales Holdings, which wants to build a shopping centre at Chinderah and a supermarket on a site affected by snail and frog habitats near the existing Woolworths supermarket at Kingscliff;

l Legal action involving the notorious Banora Point caravan park;

l an appeal by landowners Richtech Pty Ltd over a development application at Seaside City between Casuarina Beach and Salt;

l Appeals by several developers involving subdivisions affected by council policy banning extensive bulldozing of hillsides to create flat building sites;

l An appeal by developers over conditions applying to a subdivision off Barnaby Street, close to central Murwillumbah.

"They have a right to do it," said Mr Hodges.

"Sometimes people lodge ap- peals to get their matters addressed, and that forces officers to concentrate on those at others' expense."

The council's corporate services chief, Reg Norvill, said the budget was reviewed every quarter to ensure it did not run into the red.

It had increased the budget for legal costs to $230,000 last November and was currently "reviewing" the budget again.

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