Thursday 12 November 2009

Mansfield Street group to respond to Lavis

About 20 residents braved the wet weather last night for a meeting of the Mansfield Street Action Group, which has now morphed into the Cairns Hill and Habitat Protection Inc.

"It was resolved to become co-respondents, in the appeal launched by Roy Lavis against the Council's refusal to accept his [development] application," spokesperson John Martin says.

"Basically this means we are going to court on the side of the Council."

Lavis' plan is to sub-divide his 30 hectare block of hillslopes at the back of Earlville, which runs up to World Heritage Area rainforest. The block is the only freehold land on the hill over-looking Cairns.

The neighbouring residents in Mansfield Street claim that Lavis dammed up Chinaman's Creek without approval and he also put in a pumping station to provide a water supply for his gardens.

"This dam mostly washed away in subsequent wet seasons and the remains of the pump station which includes concrete blocks, rusty lengths of 100 mm water piping, still lay strewn downstream behind other resident's houses," John Martin says.

"He also built a number of roads, Council calls these 'access tracks' but they are bitumen surfaced, drained, culverted and for all intention purposes, roads. These were constructed without any approvals from Council, the EPA or any other authority."

John Martin says that the hillside is listed as a Conservation Area and owners are supposed to get approvals to do any works. According to the Mansfield Street residents, Lavis applied for an easement, but went ahead and built the road without approvals, before it was considered by Council.

"He built them without any approvals and then sought retrospective approvals once they were built. There was also rampant clearing of trees from the ridgeline that should be covered in trees."

In 2005 Roy Lavis applied to divide the land into five so he could sell off some of the block for housing development. However, a number of conditions imposed by Council became so onerous that he withdrew the application.

The current application is to subdivide the property into just two parcels: a seven hectare property at the front of the block, and a 23 hectare block at the back. Lavis plans to build a house on the larger block.

The appeal by Roy Lavis could take months to make it to the Planning and Environment Court.

John Martin says they are looking for support in the way of members, and encourages anyone to join up.

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