Council caned over inaction

BATEMANS Bay business owners have slammed Eurobodalla Shire Council after claiming it has allowed a competitor to continue operating without consent.

Bay Removals was last year given orders by council to stop using a rural property, south of Mogo on the Princes Highway, as a storage facility and a removalist depot.

The orders were made last May for the business to immediately stop using the land as a storage facility, to stop using it as a removalist depot within 60 days and to demolish and remove all structures and works associated with the storage facility’s operation within 150 days (by last October).

Council’s records showed no development application had ever been lodged or approved for the businesses and this was in breach of the Environ-mental Planning and Assessment Act.

According to documents, council has known about this business operating unlawfully since at least 2011.

Concerned business owner Peter Meares, of Batemans Bay Storage King, said despite the orders made in May, council has allowed the business to continue to operate from the site.

“They’re not paying the correct rates, land tax…” he said. “Council is protecting this un-lawful business. It should have acted on this because other businesses are suffering.”

Meanwhile, Batemans Bay’s Your Removalists owner Graham Cron said he’d written to council “expressing my concern that someone is able to operate on a completely un-level playing field”.

Despite being given the orders, Bay Removals “are getting favourable treatment by council” while other businesses don’t get the same treatment, he said.

“It’s affecting me, when I do a load I have to take into account the costs of running a depot.

“They simply don’t have those costs. They can offer quotes at rates we can’t match.

“Other removalists have ceased operations because they simply couldn’t compete.”

Mr Meares said it was costing his businesses about $5000 a month and two other shire removalists had closed their doors in the meantime.

“Council has a statutory obligation to act but they’re not doing so.”

According to council documents, Bay Removals met with council in November 2011 to discuss legalising the removalist depot component of the business and were given 28 days to lodge a development application.

Another meeting was held in December and another 28-day extension was granted.

Council followed up the next January, asking the business owners to express their intentions, but no submissions were received.

After another meeting in March, business representatives told council they needed more time to prepare and lodge the development application.

However, council did not receive it.

Mr Meares wrote to council in December asking why the business continued to operate even though the orders had expired.

According to the Bay Removals website, the company is still offering short and long-term storage as a service.

A council spokesperson told the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner: “Eurobodalla Shire Council has taken enforcement action against Bay Removals and is continuing to take reasonable steps towards addressing the conduct of the operations that are in breach of planning legislation.

“Bay Removals has been working with council towards resolving the breaches.

“As this is a legal matter, council is unable to provide you with further information at this time.”

Bay Removals did not wish to comment on the issue.

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