Mackenzie blasted by mayor over comments

MAYOR Peter Blundell has launched a stinging rebuke on Councillor Jamie Mackenzie following Cr Mackenzie's comments over a controversial unit plan in east Warwick.

As reported earlier this week Cr Mackenzie claimed the Southern Downs Regional Council had missed an opportunity to negotiate a revised plan for the unit site on Rowland St, with council in September rejecting a plan for 39 units.

The developer, Gold Coast-based CH Holdings lodged an appeal against the council in the Planning and Environment Court of Queensland, with Cr Mackenzie claiming officers had allowed the matter to proceed a step closer to a trial instead of working with the developer on a revised plan.

Cr Mackenzie said the cost to ratepayers of legal advice and planning experts could have been avoided, with mediation set down for February next year and, if that fails, a full-blown court hearing likely for March.

He also claimed council officers had failed to keep councillors fully briefed on the progress of the legal matter, moving a resolution at the council meeting last week that council invite CH Holdings to submit an amended and down-sized unit plan.

The resolution lapsed for want of a seconder.

A fired-up Cr Blundell said in a statement that Cr Mackenzie was "out of line", pointing out the outspoken councillor had seconded the refusal of the original application.

"(Cr Mackenzie) stated he was 'alarmed' to find the matter already scheduled for court in early 2015," the mayor said.

"This is an incredible statement, as on six occasions between October 29 and December 15 the Director of Planning and Environment furnished all councillors with an update of the legal progress of the matter.

"He particularly asked that any questions be referred to him for comment or answer.

"Council officers have at all times acted as would be expected of them by council and we are lucky to have the calibre of officers that we do within our planning department."

Cr Blundell said Killarney-based Cr Mackenzie "would be well advised" to remember it was council's decision was to refuse the application with reasons, that the matter is currently before the Planning and Environment Court, and that many opportunities existed for concerns to be raised appropriately.

"Finally, that the motion he moved lapsed for want of a seconder, and for all these reasons, it is totally inappropriate for a councillor to be making such comments in the media," Cr Blundell said.

Council refused the original proposal due to concerns about excessive dwelling density on the site, along with traffic and parking and access for emergency vehicles.

The mediation between council and CH Holdings has been ordered to take place on or before February 16.

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