Van park residents to be out in 60 days
By DARREN COYNE
BANORA Point Caravan Park residents have been given notice to vacate and a "park closed" sign has been erected by the operator.
However, Warren Tschannen, whose companies Blackington Pty Ltd and Caraco Pty Ltd own the park, this week de-fended himself against criticism, saying he was the person who had been willing to provide housing for many "dysfunctional misfits" that state government departments had ignored.
Mr Tschannen said his bad guy reputation was unfounded and that he had always acted in the interests of park residents, a claim many long-term residents disagree with.
Mr Tschannen made the comments after this week issuing termination notices to residents of the park which require them to vacate the property within 60 days.
He cites a refusal by the Tweed Shire Council to grant an operating licence as the reason he is now forced to close the park.
Lawyers for Tweed Shire Council said, however, that the reason is not valid.
"It's a very unfortunate situation which has not been thought through by the administrators of the council," Mr Tschannen said.
"I appealed the decision in the (NSW) Land and Environment Court and the judge upheld the council's refusal to grant a licence, which means the park is unlicensed," Mr Tschannen said.
He said the operating licence issued in 1996 expired in 2001.
"The original application was made in 2001 and the council was ordered to consider the application in November 2005 within 180 days but they had it on the desk for three years before the rejected it," Mr Tschannen said.
He said the park stopped taking new residents on May 8 and the termination of residential site agreement notices were issued this week.
"The real story that has never been told is that the government is failing these people ... I've been constantly criticised and I've always denied the criticisms.
"I was the guy willing to take on dysfunctional misfits, people with serious problems, yet our staff have never been attacked by anyone."
Mr Tschannen said at its peak the park had housed up to 500 people, many of those children.
"I've been very fair to residents and very little has been reported on the efforts I've made over a long period of time to assist residents," he said.
"Anyone wanting to leave I've paid for their relocation. Those that have stayed there I've done everything to assist and support them.
"We've been putting on breakfast for kids, working with the police and DOCs, reporting any abuse of children. I've got a lot of staff down there and they are hardworking people."
Tweed Shire Council's lawyer, Tony Smith of Stacks the Law Firm, said however that Mr Tschannen's claim that he now has no approval to operate the park is incorrect.
"As far as council is concerned the caravan park is operating. We just would not agree that he could change the way it was operating, it's as simple as that," Mr Smith said.
"There is an existing development consent to operate a caravan park, and if there wasn't council would take action to close him down and we're not doing that."
"We don't like the way he operates his park and we say he's doing things that he shouldn't do, but no action is being taken to shut him down.
"His basic consent to run a caravan park is still in operation."