Resort battle to dog new council
THE stoush between the Chinese owners of Cherrabah Resort and the Southern Downs Regional Council is likely to end in a court battle which could cost ratepayers dearly, a senior council officer has warned.
As reported this week, as one of their final acts the current councillors watered down many of the 100-plus conditions they placed on the massive Elbow Valley resort redevelopment, which could house up to 4000 residents and tourists.
But planning director Ken Harris on Friday conceded that due to what he maintained was council's hardline environmental approach, Cherrabah's owners, the China-based Joyful View Garden Real Estate Company, would most likely have to take the new council to court to get further concessions.
If the Cherrabah battle ends up in the Planning and Environment Court of Queensland a final decision could be more than 12 months away, with the court notoriously slow to deal with appeals.
The resort expansion - which would include hotels, a conference centre, golf course, aerodrome and permanent villa residences - was approved by council last June, but Joyful View demanded changes to conditions on roads, infrastructure, the environment and fire safety.
Mr Harris agreed another outcome could be that the new LNP State Government wields its planning powers and decides on the application, or the Federal Government steps in with its environmental laws, as it did with the Mary Valley Dam at Gympie.
"Yes, court action is I would say likely," Mr Harris said.
"There would be further negotiations with the applicant before it went before the court.
"But council has made it clear that if we are not happy with the standard of environmental protection out there we will not be able to support the expansion.
"Court action would be likely, as there are key conditions that council won't agree to change."
The amended Cherrabah conditions will be tabled at the general council meeting tomorrow, one of the last matters the outgoing councillors will consider.
A final decision on the changes is likely to be deferred to the new council, which could hold a round of meetings in May.
If it proceeds to its full extent, Cherrabah would be the third largest community in the region, after Warwick and Stanthorpe.