Hearnes Lake court action ‘risky'
THE Coffs Harbour City councillor most concerned about using ratepayer funds to challenge the Hearnes Lake development says he's praying the council wins its legal battle.
Cr John Arkan said he had been advised by a media release emailed to him at 10.45am yesterday the council had started proceedings in the Land and Environment Court against Planning Minister Tony Kelly, challenging the validity of the Sandy Shores concept plan approval.
In the Advocate as recently as March 5, Cr Arkan said he was worried the council was considering taking on the State Government in the court “using the public purse for this risky litigation”.
“Now that we have got the people's hopes high by taking this action, I hope that we have enough to win and not let the people down,” Cr Arkan said.
“I would not like to see some excuse for not doing our homework properly.”
Cr Arkan said he wasn't surprised by the decision to take legal action because of the strong community opposition to the controversial 200-lot Sandy Shores residential project.
“The community has obviously shown they want to go this way,” Cr Arkan said.
“I just hope we are going down this path with the right ammunition and facts behind us.
“I'm praying that we win. I'm praying we don't cop a bill.”
Asked if he was happy the council was taking legal action over the development, Cr Arkan said: “It's not a question of emotion. Have we got the legal ammunition, the backing and the facts to win.”
Asked if he thought if there should be a cap on the amount of ratepayers' money to be spent pursuing the legal action, Cr Arkan said it was now not up to the council.
“Once you're in the Land and Environment Court, you have to go the whole way.”
Cr Arkan said he had asked council general manager Steve McGrath how many times the council had been to the Land and Environment Court and how many times the council had won in the past five years.
“He said we had been 15 times, lost nine times and won six times,” he said.