Town plan secrecy claims ‘rubbish’
GYMPIE Regional Council this week rejected as "rubbish" claims of secrecy and impropriety surrounding its new planning scheme and the court case involving the expansion of Rainbow Shores.
Rainbow Shores is a 50ha resort and residential development on Inskip Peninsula. Its owners, the Krauchi family, have a development lease over a neighbouring 200ha of land which stems back to the land swap deals made in the 1980s at the cessation of sand mining on Fraser Island.
The Krauchis bought the lease from sandmining company Murphyores and now want to develop the 200ha to accommodate a further 6500 people.
The State Department of Environment and Resource Management directed Gympie Regional Council in 2009 to refuse the Krauchi's application, citing infrastructure, environmental and other concerns, and Rainbow Shores lodged an appeal in the Planning and Environment Court six months later.
The appeal hearing has been ongoing for the past 12 months. A judgment is expected soon.
The most recent twist in the saga, though, has been GRC's modification of its draft new planning scheme to acknowledge that the 200ha development lease exists on Inskip. This has prompted opponents of the development to cry foul.
The council this week stressed that it had in no way approved Rainbow Shores Stage II but simply clarified the situation at Inskip.
Council planning and development portfolio head Ian Petersen said there were significant concerns about the density and intensity of the application.
He could not deny that fighting the appeal had so far cost ratepayers in the vicinity of $500,000, but said other parties in the court case would be paying even more.
The "twists and turns in this hugely complex case" meant it was too risky to the council and its ratepayers to not have its legal team fully abreast of all developments, Cr Petersen said.
On secrecy, he said "all deliberation on planning matters must be in committee to prevent speculators from profiting from advance knowledge prior to gazettal of the plan". "This is very much a standard and necessary process."
He said that before taking "38 minutes" to adopt the modified draft town plan, the changes were considered for several weeks by council staff, all of the public submissions were "discussed at length" and each member of the council then considered the submissions for a week before the meeting on February 13.
"A further overall outcome has been added to the Environmental Management and Conservation zone code to clarify that (the Rainbow Shores Stage II land) remains an undeveloped urban lease area until conflicting issues about the environment, water supply, natural hazards, natural values, need and other state interests are resolved in order for council to consider the sensitive development of the site," Cr Petersen said.