A DEVELOPER who had plans for a multi-million development for Huskisson has labelled Shoalhaven City Council’s decision to make it community land as illegal.
George Anasta is part of a local and Sydney-based Auric Consortium that proposed to relocate Club Jervis Bay to the western side of Currambene Street on land owned by council and construct apartments on the current club site.
The proposal includes a new larger club built on the western side providing better views over the creek and out to Jervis Bay, while still respecting the community’s expectations to maintain a view corridor to the north from Owen Street.
“This move is illegal and now the wording of the resolution on the council website has changed,” he said.
“My QCs and barristers tell me it’s what is termed ultra vires - beyond their powers.
“My legal representative were hoping something like this would happen. It’s an example of caucusing. They [councillors] have sat down and decided what they were going to do.
“There were six new members of the council. They were only sworn in an hour earlier, yet they voted on this issue.
“There was no due process. There was no way the new councillors had heard the case for the development.
“My QCs believe if I was to sue I would win. I’m not here to do that, it would mean the taxpayers would have to pay.”
Mr Anasta was behind an unauthorised video circulating on Facebook prior to the recent local government election which suggested Shoalhaven mayoral candidate Greg Watson was in favour of the apartment development,
“There is no transparency in this. That’s why I put the video out,” he said.
“Jo [former Mayor Joanna Gash] and her team tried to get the decision postponed but no. New mayor Amanda Findley pushed for it.”
He said the resolution on council’s website had changed the motion.
“It has now been put back to considered,” he said.
“The Huskisson foreshore masterplan is still being considered - there has been no due process or consultation.
“The council hasn’t sat down and talked to us or the RSL Club.
“They voted and voted against the proposal without hearing its merits.
“My QC said the wise thing would have been to postpone a decision for three months and then say no.”
Shoalhaven City Council general manager Russ Pigg said there is nothing wrong or illegal with council’s actions on the issue.
“Council has simply moved to reclassify the land to community,” he said.
“There is nothing unlawful about doing that and it certainly has that power under the Local Government Act.
“Council can resolve to reclassify land from operational to community.”
He said there was a process for the change to take place and council would follow that process.
“We must give the public notice and advertise for a minimum of 28 days its intention to reclassify the land,” he said.
“During those 28 days the community has the right to make submissions to council on the matter and Mr Anasta, like every resident can make a submission if he wishes.”
Once all the submissions are received a report will be made to council for councillors to make their final decision.
“It will up to the councillors to approve or refuse the reclassification to community land or contend with submission that may have been made.”
Mr Pigg didn’t think the matter would come back to council before December.
As for the change of wording on council’s website Mr Pigg said there were no sinister motives.
“The first council meeting started on Tuesday and was adjourned and restarted the following Monday. The matter was discussed again to ensure the resolution was clear and included the need for the 28 day consultation period,” he said.
“That’s the only reason the wording of the recommendation changed, to make it clearer to the public what was going on. To show we would be going through the process and the fact it would be advertised.”
He said the Huskisson Foreshore Masterplan would also be presented to council before the end of the year.
“Staff will report back on the masterplan, the need to address any submissions received and in context to the new council’s decision to reclassify the Owen Street area as community land, which obviously puts some limitations on its future use,” he said.
“What limitations making the area community land will be, leasable terms or development options.
“If it is adopted as community land a plan of management for the area would also have to be established. And if it is declared community land that would be next process to go through, which would also be on public exhibition and there would be community engagement.
“If it is made community land, it definitely can’t be sold and there are restrictions to the amount of time ite could be leased. There is no long term tenure.”