February 12, 2014
A solution to Memerambi’s controversial housing estate is on the horizon following a win by the South Burnett Regional Council in the Planning and Environment Court.
Judge Jones yesterday dismissed two applications that could have forced the South Burnett Regional Council – and, ultimately ratepayers – to pay to fix up the mess left after the project developers ran into financing problems and left vital infrastructure incomplete.
South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said today the way was finally clear for council to do something to fix the eyesore which he described as a “planning disaster”.
He said while the court case was running, Council could not even enter the blocks to slash the overgrown weeds.
There were now three possible futures for the estate:
1. That Council does nothing and waits for another developer to pick up the project
2. That Council pays for the development work – which includes providing road access, stormwater drainage and electricity connections – and absorbs the costs; or
3. That the estate be declared a “benefitted area” . This would mean the Memerambi landholders would be charged an extra fee on their rates for a set period – possibly 10 years – to recover Council’s costs for making the estate habitable.
Mayor Kratzmann said he had inherited the Memerambi Estate problem when he became mayor and he was adamant that South Burnett ratepayers would not be left paying for work that should have been paid for by the developer.
He said he could feel for the people who had purchased blocks in the estate, but ultimately it was the developer’s responsibility to pay for the infrastructure, not other South Burnett ratepayers.
Mayor Kratzmann said his preferred solution was No 3 – the “benefitted area” – and he would be supporting this option when it was put to a Council meeting.
“I have asked for a full report on declaring it a benefitted area to be prepared for councillors to consider,” he said.
If this was adopted, Council would take a loan to pay for the work.
“The cost of the loan, interest and redemption costs would be part of the benefitted area charge,” he said.
“But the good news is, now we can move forward.”