THE FATE of a mini-city plan for Cherrabah Resort could be decided by the State Government, after Southern Downs regional councillors this week voted to flick it on.
With the resort's Chinese owners challenging the council's conditions on their proposed 4000-person mega-development in court, Mayor Peter Blundell will write to Deputy Premier and Planning Minister Jeff Seeney asking his department to assess the plan.
The move is unusual, with the State Government able to use its powers to take over decision-making from a local council, but normally not at a council's request.
Cherrabah's owner The Joyful View Garden Real Estate Company is challenging a raft of council conditions, including road upgrades and provision of a fire station.
If it proceeds, the expanded resort would include five-star hotels, a new golf course and airstrip, conference facilities, retail and 2000 permanent residents.
Councillors at a meeting on Tuesday initially voted to delegate the handling of the Cherrabah court action to acting CEO Andrew Ireland, with only Cr Jamie Mackenzie opposing.
Cr Mackenzie later moved successfully to have the matter handed up to the Minister, seconded by Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley, on the grounds the State Government was not fully aware of the impact of a resort on such a scale.
Cr Mackenzie told the Daily News yesterday it would create 913 housing lots in a "relatively remote location with few services".
"In no way would I support defending the previous council's approval in court," he said.
"Not only is it contrary to the town plan, important environmental issues have not been addressed and I don't believe the State Government fully understands the impacts.
"This should not be a debate in court about the standards of services and roads required, but whether this development is appropriate.
"I have no problem with rebuilding an ageing resort, but there would be at least a dozen other existing settlements in the region where all the required infrastructure is in place, and worthy of expansion with new lots ahead of Cherrabah."
Cr Mackenzie said an expanded Cherrabah would have the same result as "inappropriate rural residential development" now banned by the council.
"It would affect underground water, create conflicts with agriculture and the environment, generate demand for expensive pest and refuse management, schools, emergency and other state services which ratepayers' and taxpayers' funds will ultimately be required to provide," he said.
Mayor Peter Blundell was yesterday unavailable for comment on this week's council debate.
If the State Government agrees to take over the Cherrabah controversy, the court process would be suspended until the Minister's decision.
The project could also be canned by the Federal Government on environmental grounds if a rare species is found on the sprawling 2180 hectare property.
To read more visit www.southerndowns.qld.gov.au and click on the link to council meetings.
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