'The matter just lies on the table' - Councillor
AN APPLICATION for a helicopter pad at a residential address on Woongarra Scenic Dve has left Bundaberg Regional Councillors divided.
The application came from Bargara man Paul Perry who had been using his backyard, across the road from Money's Creek, as a helicopter take-off and landing facility before he was issued with an alleged unlawful use of premises notice from the council.
Unable to fly the Robinson R22 any longer from his home, Mr Perry launched an official application with the council for a Material Change of Use for storage and operation of his chopper last year.
After a 15-day public notification period from February 15 which attracted 39 properly made submissions - 33 against the proposal - the application was yesterday put before an official council vote.
Some of the submitters raised concerns including Bargara being a tourist destination not an airport, the proposed site being a quiet residential area which is adjacent to powerlines and too close to the road.
The concerns were echoed in council planning officer Merinda Honor's 32-page recommendation which featured 11 reasons to refuse the application.
Mrs Honor's reasons included an unacceptable loss of amenity for surrounding residents and unaccepable public hazard safety.
When the recommendation was opened to the floor it attracted lots of questions and ended in a split vote.
Mrs Honor said Mr Perry's application, while not required to go before any referal agencies, was sent to Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to crystallise the planning officers' view that it should be refused.
"CASA cannot guarantee it would be safe from that location," she said.
Deputy mayor David Batt questioned this point.
"What was it we actually forwarded to CASA," he said.
Mrs Honor confirmed it was Mr Perry's application.
"And they didn't even come on site and see it," Cr Batt said.
Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman reiterated Cr Batt's point.
"They (CASA) don't really need to have an opinion - to me it's not a determining factor. Am I wrong?," he said.
Bargara divisional representative Greg Barnes was appalled.
"I'm quite suprised that we've got concerns around the table that CASA is not the head of power," he said.
The council's senior planning officer, Michael Ellery, agreed.
"To ignore blatant safety issues, I believe would lead to claims that (the) council is negligent," Mr Ellery said.
When the recommendation for refusal was put to the vote, Crs Batt, Forman, Alan Bush, Lynne Forgan, Tony Ricciardi and Judy Peters voted against the move.
Meeting chairman and council planning and development spokesman Ross Sommerfeld, said he would need to seek further advice on where to go from here.
"The matter just lies on the table," Cr Sommerfeld said.
After the meeting, Cr Sommerfeld admitted the outcome was "quite a surprise".