Lake fight begins
COFFS Harbour City councillors have all received copies of a sobering letter from the lawyers acting for Sandy Shores Developments Pty Ltd.
Part of the letter has also been posted on a local website.
Sandy Shores is the group which has received concept approval to develop a large parcel of coastal land south of Hearnes Lake into a 200-lot residential subdivision under the Part 3A state planning legislation, which by-passes councils.
Coffs Harbour City Council has begun action in the Land and Environment Court against the NSW Minister for Planning, challenging that concept approval, the only avenue now open to the council.
The council has maintained for many years development on the low-lying site should be limited to 35 lots.
The letter from the lawyers for Sandy Shores was described yesterday by one councillor as “one of those threats you get occasionally”.
Sent from Gadens Lawyers in Sydney to Sparke Helmore, the firm acting for the council, the letter notifies the council that the case is creating a ‘significant’ obstacle to Sandy Shores Pty Ltd raising finance for the project and makes it plain that if the council case is found to have no merit, Sandy Shores will seek to recover a wide range of costs, including legal and expert costs, project management costs and holding costs.
A local lawyer not involved in the case said although it seemed threatening to lay people, it was quite usual in such circumstances and reflected the big money involved.
“It is a normal letter which passes between firms with big litigation,” the lawyer said. “It is about who has the balls to keep going.
“The council does not have to reply, but needs to get proper advice in relation to all the points raised in the letter and needs to know the likely extent of the damages.”
The council’s general manager, Steve McGrath, said he was aware the letter between lawyers had been forwarded to the council and he had sent an email to councillors and some staff advising them that there was no need to respond.
Mr McGrath said he understood an initial mention date of April 8 had been set down for the case, when the points of the claim would be lodged.