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Council votes to buy
Porter's land for precinct

by Cameron Outridge


Caloundra City Council has agreed to buy a 62 hectare parcel of land in Maleny to develop a residential and community precinct through a joint venture initiative. Caloundra City Mayor Don Aldous said the decision to buy the land, behind the Maleny Hotel, was made in light of information, studies, presentations and public consultation completed by the Maleny Community Precinct Taskforce.

The Taskforce was formed last year to review the precinct proposal and address issues and comments from community feedback.  "This decision to buy the land is based on the Taskforce's work which indicates the precinct proposal has the support of the wider Maleny community.   Through this decision, Council authorises the CEO to exercise the option to purchase the property, which Council has had on the property known as 'Porter's Land'," Cr Aldous said.

"Council's preferred option will then be to seek joint venture partners with the appropriate experience and financial capacity to assist with the development.  "A joint venture arrangement would see Council develop community facilities and enironmental areas while an experienced developer would look at the residential component.  "This type of arrangement will enable Council to provide this growing community with valuable community assets at little cost to residents and ratepayers."

Div One Councillor Dick Newman said Council's overall vision was for an economically and environmentally sustainable development, incorporating buffer zones to preserve the visual amenity of the site.  "However, if the development does not proceed, the land will be retained by Council for the disposal of effluent by CalAqua to protect the water quality of the Obi Obi Creek and will include a 30 metre riparian zone along the creek to connect the townships of Maleny and Gardiners Falls," Cr Newman said.

"Throughout this process of moving forward the precinct proposal, Council is committed to continue consulting with the community and keeping them informed."  "The rigorous process followed by the taskforce members, their willingness to work together, joining their skills and interests have helped Council reach an outcome that reflects the needs and aspirations of the Maleny community,'' said Cr Newman.  "This decision by Council will make it possible, both financially and in accordance with planning and government regulations, to deliver several million dollars of community facilities to the Maleny community.

Facilities that would never have been able to be delivered through rates revenue alone."   Council has also moved to seek support from Queensland Treasury to provide independent professional advice, to be independently audited to ensure all processes and procedures are correctly followed and to approach the State Government to seek opportunities for infrastructure support, if the partnership venture proceeds.

Local resident Terry Ryder who is a vocal opponent of the purchase said Mayor Don Aldous had "continued his tradition of issuing press releases that blatantly misrepresent the true situation".  "Council did not vote to buy the Porters farm land to build a residential estate, golf course and community precinct.  It voted simply to buy the land.  There was - quite deliberately - no mention in the Council resolution of houses, a golf course or a community precinct.

"But it is clear that elements within the Council, including Aldous and property manager Doug Forsyth, are determined that Maleny is going to have a golf course paid for by selling houses, whether residents want it or not.  "The Aldous statement also misrepresents the situation with the Taskforce.   He says the Taskforce work proves there is widespread support for the development in the Maleny community.  This is untrue.  The Taskforce has done nothing to determine whether the community supports its recommendations or not.

"This breaches an undertaking made to the community at last year's public meetings. The Mayor promised the community would be given the opportunity to vote Yes or No to the Taskforce recommendations.  This has not happened.   Maleny has been lied to, yet again, on this issue.

"We were also promised that the Taskforce would examine all options for the land, including the community gardens.  We were told it did not necessarily have to be a golf course and houses.  All suggestions for the land would be considered. This did not happen either. Anyone who tried to suggest alternatives was shouted down, verbally abused and, in some cases, threatened.  This constitutes yet another lie to the Maleny community.

"The Taskforce had no right to go to Council and recommend it buy the Porters land. Its charter required it to consult with the community before going to Council. It failed to do that.

"For these and other reasons, members of the Maleny community intend to legally challenge the Council's decision. We believe it can be declared invalid for a number of clear reasons.

The process which has led Council to this decision has been littered with corruption, manipulated community processes, broken promises and misrepresentation by the Mayor. "It will not be allowed to go unchallenged."

Golf Club welcomes Council Decision

The Maleny Golf Club welcomed the decision by Caloundra City Council to purchase Stephen Porter's property. "It is three years since the Club approached Council for access to the Armstrong Farm to build a community golf course," said Club President, Max Whitten. "After much effort by the Club, the Maleny Taskforce and former Councilor Pauline Clayton, the dream is now closer to reality.

"The combined properties of Armstrong and Steve Porter offer a perfect setting for an integrated golf course and gardens. "The Club remains committed to working with the community and the Council, via the Taskforce and Councilor Dick Newman, to develop a master plan for the Maleny precinct.   A community golf course in the mild and beautiful hinterland will be a tremendous social and environmental asset to Maleny and the surrounding district."

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.