A COURT warning to Tweed Shire councillors not to delay making a decision on a new township planned by the husband of mayor Joan van Lieshout has forced the sudden calling of an extraordinary meeting of the council.
Last week six of the seven councillors - excluding mayor van Lieshout who declared a conflict of interest and did not take part in discussions - deferred for a month consideration of the $2 million-plus plan for stage one of the new “environmentally-friendly” village west of Mt Warning.
They decided they needed more information even though the original application was lodged in 2006 and last year went before the NSW Land and Environment Court which helped nut out conditions of approval.
Commissioner of the court, former NSW Liberal Party state government minister Tim Moore this week told the council unless it quickly made a decision he would take the matter out of their hands.
Yesterday a council spokesperson confirmed an extraordinary meeting would be held specifically to consider the Nightcap Village development application on Tuesday from 4.30pm.
Protesters against the project are furious and plan to pack the public gallery.
But developer Peter van Lieshout, who has owned the property next door to his Misty Mountain home near Kunghur for years, is delighted, and yesterday slammed the council for continuous delays.
“It is sad the councillors didn't do their homework (before last week's meeting). Deferring the whole thing was silly,” Mr van Lieshout said.
“It's into its fourth year now and there's no need for it. We could have had employment out there already.
“We are now in a recession, but council will have their jobs. They don't realise by not keeping things moving it slows the shire down”
President of the Caldera Residents Action Group John Donvito, who has spearheaded protests against the township, criticised Commissioner Moore's intervention.
“This business of rushing it through is totally unacceptable. It would only be another two or three weeks anyway,” he said.
Mr Donvito's group has argued the 1000-resident township would increase traffic through Uki, threaten to pollute upper reaches of the Tweed River and interfere with the site of a rumoured Aboriginal massacre.
Cr Warren Polglase said councillors had held a two-and-a-half-hour workshop session about the development on Tuesday night and had needed extra time to understand the issues.
“We are approving a major development in a very sensitive area,” Cr Polglase said.
“It's alright for council officers to make recommendations, but councillors, when they vote on this, need to understand what they are supporting.
“Proposals like Casuarina and Salt were around two to three years before they were approved.”
Mr van Lieshout's site was zoned for a future village by a previous council in 1986.
Council planning officers have recommended approval subject to more than 200 conditions.