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Letter to editor: Offending fence

8/October/2021
Photo of the offending fence

The attached photo depicts the roof of our home, which is barely visible above a three-metre-high fence constructed along the southern boundary of our beach front property at Kurrimine Beach, where my wife and I have lived for the past fourteen years. 

 

Acting completely at odds with any common sense, Mayor Nolan and six Councillors, including our local Division representative Cr Trudie Tschui, voted to approve this fence at a full Council meeting held on August 12, 2021. 

 

In July 2020, we discovered, without any official  prior notice, that the Cassowary Coast Regional Council (CCRC) Planning Department had approved the construction by our neighbours of this three-metre-high solid fence to be built on the entire fifty-four metres of our Southern adjoining boundary, alongside our already constructed, and more than adequate, 1.8-metre-high fence. 

 

We approached the CCRC with our concerns about this development approval, to no avail. For more than twelve months, we have been forced to spend much time and expense in a legal dispute over what any normal application of reason would classify as a totally unacceptable and invasive proposition for any homeowners to endure and most certainly one completely out of character for our township of Kurrimine Beach. Every one of numerous attempts to have the CCRC consider our objection to this application has been ignored. For some reason, the CCRC has completely denied us any shred of fairness and reason. 

 

Our legal action eventually resulted in a Court determination declaring the fence application void, on the grounds that it did not comply with the relevant town planning codes and that the CCRC had failed to conduct any mandatory site inspection. 

 

During these legal proceedings, the CCRC acknowledged that the application approval was ‘an unfortunate oversight.’ 

 

Also, in spite of their being informed of pending legal action, our neighbours deliberately chose to proceed with, and to complete, construction of fourteen metres,  shown in the photograph, of the original fifty-four metre fence. 

 

The CCRC then asked our neighbours for more information and subsequently received a new application for this already constructed portion of fence from the original now voided approval. This new application was put to a CCRC General Meeting for approval on August 12, 2021. Notwithstanding the previous legal determination by the Court, the CCRC’s Planning Department, treated our objections as unwarranted and insignificant, and sent what we would describe as a biased and misleading brief that we allege was full of untruths, which completely ignored every reason cited in the Court’s determination voiding the CCRC’s original building approval, to Mayor Nolan and all six Councillors. The brief fully recommended approval of the new application advising them that this portion of fence now complied with all building and planning codes. 

 

At no time in this meeting were any of our objections to this development, our lawyer’s legal advice, or an affidavit from a well-respected town planner stating that this fence application should never have been approved, ever discussed, considered, or even mentioned. 

 

Cr. Tschui, our elected Division 3 representative, who had accepted an invitation to our house to view the situation personally, failed to initiate any pertinent discussion whatsoever on our behalf. She asked only one question at the meeting, perhaps for the record [sic] “Why is this being put to full Council meeting?” To which, Byron Jones’ answered [sic] “Because of possible court action.” An answer of which Cr Tschui would have been well aware. All Councillors, seemingly totally unconcerned and reluctant to acquire any elaboration whatsoever to Byron Jones’ response to Cr. Tschui’s question, chose to treat this matter with an uncaring and disinterested attitude and readily accepted, without further question, his brief by voting unanimously to approve the new application. 

 

Our subsequent official complaint to CCRC regarding this latest decision approval was once again dismissed in an unsigned communication with a blunt suggestion that we should lodge yet another appeal, which would again be lengthy and expensive, through the Planning and Environment Court.

 

We now find ourselves hemmed in, inside our home. Our lounge room and nature strip views, prevailing breezes, and natural lighting have all been severely compromised, nay desecrated, by an unreasonable, unnecessary, and hideous construction, approved by an extremely questionable CCRC decision-making procedure, which now has set an unrealistic precedent completely foreign to the  Kurrimine Beach community and, in fact, all Cassowary Coast residential communities. 

 

This whole incident in dealing with the CCRC’s “unfortunate oversight” has caused considerable and totally unwarranted mental stress and angst for us as elderly retirees.

 

It should be an absolutely given expectation that our elected representatives show appropriate due diligence, rational thinking, integrity, and accountability in all procedures concerning their rate-paying constituents. If Cassowary Coast constituents desire these standards of public office, which have clearly been absent in our case, then their election choices are clear.

 

Ron Smart,

Kurrimine Beach

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions held by the Wet Tropic Times, its Editor, or staff.

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