Park waterslides get tick, finally
MORE than three years and $355,000 in legal bills later, a Hastings Point business owner has finally been granted permission to install two new waterslides at his tourist park.
North Star Holiday Resort owner Ian Beadel, who opened the award-winning tourist park with his wife some 38 years ago, first met with council officers in January 2015 to discuss plans to upgrade the water park he originally installed 20 years ago.
In his subsequent development application, Mr Beadel proposed to replace the existing 3m-high waterslides with two longer and higher, coloured fibreglass tube waterslides to a height of 10m, including an acoustic screen.
But, despite council's planning officers recommending approval of the DA in a 50-page report, councillors on the casting vote of Mayor Katie Milne rejected the officers' decision in December 2016 following lobbying by residents concerned about the impact of the facility on noise, traffic and surrounding fauna.
Last week Land and Environment Court NSW Commissioner Michael Chilcott found in Mr Beadel's favour, granting him permission to install the new slides, subject to conditions including installing the acoustic screen, improved parking signage and limiting the water park to park guests and their visitors.
The case cost Mr Beadel around $200,000 in legal and other fees - a sum he is not able to recover - while a council spokesperson confirmed it had cost ratepayers $155,661, with further costs relating to conditions directed by the court "likely".
An emotional Mr Beadel, who admitted the ordeal had been extremely stressful, said he had a responsibility to ensure his park maintained high standards.
"We have some 75 people who work here and many more who indirectly gain much of their employment by our success," he said.
"It is our responsibility to have North Star maintain our five-star rating, which directly relates to job security."
He called for a mechanism to compensate those who are forced to take on council in a higher court and win.
"There should be some mechanism for applicants to be compensated when our professional council officers go to all the trouble to review and approve a DA only for the councillors to go against that recommendation," he said.
"One of the very sad experiences we have come across over the past year has been the many ratepayers who have spoken of being in the same boat of having their DA rejected but not having the money to go to court."
Cr Warren Polglase, who voted for the DA, said the case was a disgrace.
"This is an enormous waste of money and resources because council staff approved this and the elected body knocked it back," Cr Polglase said.
"The cost of money involved and the lost opportunities, because it has been nearly three years... I just think Tweed Shire needs a good kick up the pants, honestly."
Cr James Owen, who also supported the DA, said "we could have negotiated the same outcome at little or no cost - that what's professional organisations do - but now another $150,000 has gone. You can fix a lot of potholes with $150,000".
But Cr Reece Byrnes, who voted to oppose the DA, said councillors were "always mindful of using ratepayers' money".
"We are elected to represent people and that sometimes doesn't coincide with recommendations but ultimately that is who we are elected by and who we represent," he said.
"If we ticked everything off that was recommended for approval, a lot of people might not be happy."