News

$30m investor left hanging in wind

By Tyla Harrington

A MOAMA developer who has spent more than $30 million helping develop the town has slammed Murray River Council for waiving 50 per cent of council’s fees for a proposed childcare centre.

Especially since his own development application is still waiting approval — six months after it was lodged.

Ray Perry said he had paid 100 per cent of council’s required fees for more than 15 years for a number of developments.

‘‘We as local developers ... believe this to be grossly unfair,’’ Mr Perry said.

‘‘We have never been offered any such assistance from council despite developing in the town for more than 20 years and spending in the vicinity of $30 million doing so.’’

As part of the Moama Waters development, Mr Perry said he was forced to spend about $65,000 to pay for a road that would never be used.

‘‘After we paid for council to construct the extension of Old Barmah Rd, that council constructed and sealed Bett St, Moama at no cost to the landholders in Bett St,’’ he said.

Mr Perry said two development applications were lodged for the construction of sheds in the Moama Business Park in November, 2017.

‘‘A meeting with Des Bilske during his time as interim general manager left us confident that council would see DAs processed in a timely manner — approximately 40 days was the suggested time frame,’’ he said.

‘‘It is now almost June and the DAs have still not been issued.

‘‘As one of only a few owners in the Moama Business Park to actually develop their allotments we find the delay in this relatively straightforward approval process, disheartening.

‘‘If council’s approach is to now help developers progress their projects as appears to be the case from its decision to waive fees ... perhaps they will consider providing equal assistance to us for all projects future and current.

‘‘If not, a clear explanation should be provided for council’s decision to waive any fees associated with the application.’’

Mr Perry said he was frustrated with council.

‘‘We’ve never taken the money out, we’ve always put it back in,’’ he said.

‘‘We put five factories in the old industrial estate and we’ve got about 17 factories in the new industrial estate and we’re trying to put two more up.

‘‘And this is what they do to you.’’

Council’s general manager Des Bilske said council did not respond to letters received by the general manager or councillors through the media.

‘‘A response will be sent directly to Mr Perry,’’ he said via email yesterday.

Mr Bilske said the target for approval of development applications was 40 days.

‘‘This can be achieved with simple development applications that fully comply with the Local Environmental Plan and other relevant legislation and when all relevant information is provided at the time of application,’’ he said.

‘‘More complex applications will take significantly longer to assess.’’