Friday, 20 January 2012

Wollongong City Council has voted to rezone land it used for unlawful waste disposal


Land rezoned after council broke rules

20 Jan, 2012 04:00 AM

Wollongong City Council has voted to rezone land it used for unlawful waste disposal, despite council officers taking action over unapproved land use there, and the council itself facing potential fines over the matter.

The rezoning would mean the land, on Walker St at Helensburgh, would be changed from E3 Environmental Management zoning to IN2 light industrial, and would allow Blackwell Bros to continue its earthmoving, waste tipping and recycling business there.

But the council has been accused of ‘‘changing the rules because it broke them’’.

A council investigation last year found the Blackwells’ business - which employs up to 30 people - had expanded beyond what was allowed under a 1983 development consent, and that a house, several sheds and a motorbike track had been built without approval.
The investigation also found the site was receiving building waste and that the council’s works division had ‘‘regularly delivered waste materials to the site’’.

This was referred to the State Government’s environmental watchdog for investigation and the council concluded it could be fined $5000.

But while the council has recently threatened home owners with fines of up to $1.1 million for an unlawful cubbyhouse and a brush fence, in this case councillors voted to rezone the land to allow light industrial use.
The motion was passed 8-4 at the November 28 council meeting along with other Helensburgh zoning matters.

The council environment manager’s report had advised the land was not appropriate for light industrial use as it ‘‘backed onto relatively undisturbed catchments’’.
Yesterday, Blackwell director Adam Blackwell said the rezoning was necessary to allow local business to continue. He said the original development consent was vague and the materials received there were safe, and were recycled.

‘‘It’s not waste, it’s landscape supplies,’’ he said. ‘‘If we were doing the wrong thing now, we would have been shut down three months ago.’’
The light industrial rezoning was moved by Cr Chris Connor, principal of Helensburgh primary school. Voting for the rezoning were councillors Connor, Janice Kershaw, Ann Martin, Michelle Blicavs, John Dorahy, Leigh Colacino, Bede Crasnich and Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery.

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The site in Walker St, Helensburgh last April, with building rubbish and other waste material on the Blackwell Bros land zoned for environmental management purposes.
The site in Walker St, Helensburgh last April, with building rubbish and other waste material on the Blackwell Bros land zoned for environmental management purposes.
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