APPROVED: An artist's impression of one of the homes as part of the Bargara Waters development.
APPROVED: An artist's impression of one of the homes as part of the Bargara Waters development. Contributed

Development game changer: Council gives CEO approval power

UNLESS councillors speak up and request a development application go before the full council to be decided, a change in delegation introduced in January means the CEO calls the shots on what gets the green or red light.

A Bundaberg Regional Council spokesman said the change was made to reduce red tape, speed up decisions and improve operational efficiencies.

The change has been in place since the January council meeting, when councillors voted unanimously to give chief executive officer Steve Johnston greater powers.

The NewsMail asked questions yesterday after the council's planning and development spokesman councillor Ross Sommerfeld said only two councillors received full briefings on a 344-lot lifestyle resort project which was approved by council, but became the subject of a legal appeal after residents became concerned.

The residents this week announced they had dropped their appeal following a compromise by the developer of Bargara Waters.

In her weekly column yesterday, Edwina Rowan, a Bundaberg lawyer and one of the residents involved in the legal appeal, praised the developer but questioned the approval process.

When asked what delegating the CEO greater powers meant, a council spokesman said the process was modelled on Queensland best practice.

"The divisional councillor and the portfolio councillor receive full briefings of all significant applications shortly after they are lodged and have the opportunity to attend pre-lodgement meetings,” the council spokesman said.

"All councillors receive a list of development applications received and decided every Friday.

"Before officers decide significant applications the divisional councillor and portfolio councillor receive a copy of the recommendation and have the opportunity to request more information or refer the application to a council meeting for determination.

"The CEO and group manager of development can also refer any application to a council meeting.

"Any councillor can ask at any time that a matter be decided by the full council.”

The spokesman said where there was no request for this to occur, the decision was made under delegation by the CEO or his nominated delegate.

He said the UDIA was notified of the changes and expressed support.

Council CEO Steve Johnson responds to Edwina Rowan's column: Page 14



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