October 8, 2015
Tenders for building missing roads and drainage infrastructure on the failed Memerambi Estate are expected to be called within weeks, and work on normalising the estate should begin early next year.
Roads Portfolio chair Cr Damien Tessmann told Wednesday’s South Burnett Regional Council meeting GenEng Solutions had been engaged to undertake design work and contract administration on the project.
Council has now agreed to GenEng’s project plan, and tenders are expected to be called in the middle of October.
The Estate has sat lifeless since its developer Summit View Meritor Pty Ltd was placed into liquidation in August 2013, barely two and a half years after gaining approval from Council to develop the Estate.
Summit View Meritor had exploited a hole in the region’s existing planning scheme relating to historical subdivisions which allowed the company to build and sell houses on the Estate before it had built the infrastructure to support them.
The houses were sold to investors under a complex financing scheme which allowed Summit View Meritor to obtain full payment when the properties were 80 per cent complete.
When the company suddenly collapsed, owners found they were unable to move into their partially complete houses because the missing infrastructure meant the Estate was considered unfit for human habitation.
A flurry of court actions launched by a small number of the Estate’s disgruntled property investors followed.
While the Council was cleared of any wrong-doing, it was unable to take any action on the problem until the court actions had been concluded.
This occurred in February 2014, and soon afterwards it was suggested the best solution would be to declare the Estate a “benefitted area”.
Under this arrangement, Council would borrow the estimated $2.1 million needed to make the Estate habitable to carry out the work.
The entire cost of the loan would then be repaid by the Estate’s property owners over an extended period of time.
The Council put this proposal to the Estate’s property owners, a process that took until March this year to resolve.
It then voted to go ahead with the proposal at its June meeting after a majority of the Estate’s owners either signed their agreement to the arrangement, or offered no objection to it.
Work on normalising the Estate is expected to take until December 2016.
Property owners will not only need to repay an average $32,000 for their share of the loan over a ten year period, but also spend additional money to complete their houses (if they have a house block).
At the time the vote was taken, Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said while he had great sympathy for the plight the Estate’s owners found themselves in, he did not believe South Burnett ratepayers should “pick up the tab” for fixing the problem.
“Yes, this solution will cost the Estate’s property owners money,” he said.
“But they will be able to pay this off in a way I hope will be affordable for them, and it will allow them to recoup the bulk of their investment over time.
“The alternative is that they walk away and lose the lot, and I don’t think most people would want to do that.”
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The upgrading of the Clark & Swendson Road and Kingaroy-Barkers Creek road intersection near Swickers processing plant in Kingaroy is likely to take some time to complete.
Cr Tessmann told Wednesday’s meeting that Highland Infrastructure Group has been engaged to undertake detailed design, construction staging and Main Roads engagement for the project.
Because the intersection is under State Government control and requires approval from the Department of Transport and Main Roads before construction can commence, it’s not yet known when this will occur.
The improved intersection, when built, will allow Swickers to create a new access point for their plant, which in turn will allow the company to expand its operations.
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Nanango’s streetscaping project is very close to completion, Cr Tessmann said.
Work is continuing on the alfresco areas near the Little Drayton Street crossing, and the next stage will be the completion of pedestrian facilities near the Drayton Street roundabout.
The timber for the street’s shade structures has also arrived and Council has commissioned a contractor to erect them.
The completed $1.1 million streetscape project will be officially launched with a free community street party in early November.