A COURT battle over a controversial expansion plan for Cherrabah Resort which could cost Southern Downs ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars has moved one step closer to fruition.
The China-based owners of the Elbow Valley resort east of Warwick - who want to bring 2000 permanent residents and as many tourists to the bush retreat - have lodged a formal appeal against council's conditions, in the Planning and Environment Court of Queensland.
If a last attempt at mediation fails, the matter will proceed to a fully-blown court hearing, which as well as council's lawyers could cost them dearly in experts and consultants to give evidence.
The former council at its last meeting in April amended a range of approval conditions on the development, as well as staying firm on key rules such as the provision of a fire station for the mini-city and road upgrades.
But Cherrabah owners the Joyful View Garden Real Estate Company are digging in their heels, labelling such conditions as unreasonable and irrelevant.
Court documents show other council requirements under challenge include the employment of a site manager with environmental qualifications and the removal of declared weeds, including lantana, from a dedicated nature reserve.
As well as permanent villa-style units and a five-star tourism resort, the Cherrabah expansion would also include a conference centre, post office, upgraded golf course and airstrip, sports centre, caravan park and convenience stores.
Mayor Peter Blundell yesterday said while council would discuss the appeal in detail at committee meetings next week, he was confident a way forward could be found in coming months to avoid a court hearing.
"We always remain hopeful these issues can be resolved through mediation and negotiation," Cr Blundell said.
"But there are a range of things I believe council should remain firm on, including provision of a fire station and road works."
Cr Blundell said he believed the permanent residents envisioned could be a mix of both Chinese and other overseas migrants, along with Australian retirees wishing to move from major urban centres for a lifestyle change in the bush.