Council to seek legal advice on Jetty claim over State land
Coffs Harbour City Council will seek legal advice on the possibility of claiming ownership of a patch of prime Jetty Foreshore land from the NSW Government.
Cr Paul Amos raised the motion and spoke in support of it at tonight's council meeting.
His bold move has gained a lot of attention in previous days with the legal basis for his argument -the little-used law of 'adverse possession' - referred to colloquially as squatter's rights.
"I don't want Councillors to be baulked by the term squatters rights; it's a lot more than that," Cr Amos said.
"It is a legal avenue that is changing and we have, in my eyes, potentially a real claim here and I'm just asking for us to get more clarification.
"With adverse possession you need to demonstrate it has been sitting neglected for about 30 years and in my eyes that has happened."
The patch of railway land under question is to the east of the railway line to the north of Marina Drive and has been used for a range of community purposes over the years from carboot sales to concerts and parking.
Cr Amos argued that the State land has not been dedicated for a specific public purpose such a cemetery or a travelling stock route or hospital. He also argued that very little maintenance had been carried out there other than work carried out by Council.
"So we are demonstrating we have a history of using and looking after that area over and above State Rail.
"The purpose of this motion is to simply get legal opinion. So pick a team - the State Government or the community of Coffs Harbour."
Cr John Arkan seconded the motion and asked for clarity on the area known as 'Happy Valley' and any indigenous claims on the land.
General Manager Steve McGrath said he would look into that if the motion was successful.
When it was put to the vote only Crs Tegan Swan and George Cecato voted against it.
Kim Towner who has run the Harbourside Markets for over 10 years presented a statement in favour of the move. She described the harbourside area as the soul of Coffs Harbour.
"It's given me a broad view of the many ways in which the area is used and what it means to us," Ms Towner said.
"It is a leveller; it doesn't matter if you're wealthy or poor, an old-timer or a new comer. Everyone belongs."
Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh has sought legal advice on this matter.
"I have sought advice on this matter given the serious nature of the proposal before council this week and the advice I received indicates Adverse Possession cannot be claimed," Mr Singh said.
"The advice references Section 13.1 of the Crown Lands Management Act 2016 No 58."