Council issues hefty fines for unlawful development

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Council has recently issued fines totalling $12,000 for unlawful activities in relation to development compliance in the Lismore Local Government Area.

Council recently fined the developers of Waterford Park $6000 for unlawful tree removal and issued a $6000 fine to a property owner in Dunoon Road for the unlawful habitation of three dwellings on a property.

The Waterford Park subdivision for 236 lots was originally approved in April 2005, and an application to modify the consent and remove 18 teak and 14 silky oak trees was submitted in 2016. However when Council officers conducted a site inspection, they discovered 41 trees had already been removed without consent.

The tree debris was subsequently set on fire in late September 2016 by unknown persons not associated with the development, causing numerous complaints from surrounding landowners.

“We want to be clear with developers that we don’t condone this sort of behaviour. Environmental protection is important to meet community expectations and wellbeing and there are consequences for non-compliance with approvals,” Council’s Manager Development and Compliance Peter Jeuken said.

“New developments are great for the ongoing, sustainable growth of Lismore but it must not be at the expense of losing valued native flora and fauna.”

Council has also issued a property owner $6000 in fines after a site visit revealed unlawful dwellings were being leased on a rural property at Dunoon Road.

Council had issued orders as far back as 2011 to the property owner regarding the unlawful habitation of three dwellings.

Further complaints in late 2016 prompted Council to make another site inspection where they discovered evidence of long-term habitation, further unlawful construction and unapproved wastewater disposal. They also obtained documents indicating that the properties were leased.

“This is the second instance the property owner has undertaken illegal activities in regard to the habitation of unapproved structures on the premises, despite orders being in place to restrict their use,” Mr Jeuken said.

“Council has provided various opportunities and substantial assistance to the owner in attempting to bring the property into compliance but the owner continued to undertake illegal activities. The owner has demonstrated little regard for the health and safety of the occupants of the illegal structures or the planning legislation. Receipts and advice from the tenants indicate that the owner has been receiving up to $1250 per week for the rent of these structures, which have recently been vacated following Council’s intervention.

“We needed to send a clear message to the owner and the community that Council is committed to ensuring the health and safety of building occupants and any non-compliances brought to its attention is rectified in a reasonable timeframe.”

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