Council set to act on park breaches

VALUABLE SPACE: Noosa Council is looking to stop commercial parkland encroachments.
VALUABLE SPACE: Noosa Council is looking to stop commercial parkland encroachments. John McCutcheon

A NOOSA councillor has failed in a bid to launch property seizures against commercial jetty lease holders whose businesses are encroaching on Noosaville foreshore parkland.

Other councillors at the Monday Noosa Council general committee meeting thought Cr Brian Stockwell's approach was too hard-line, however they have agreed to send letters to offending jetty leaseholders asking them to cease encroach- ments on reserve land.

Cr Stockwell was "flabbergasted” by the scale and growth in activities of some leaseholders after being shown maps and pictures of the encroachments.

He wanted council staff to conduct random audits to ensure compliance and to "seize or impound any structure, vessel or thing” found to be in breach.

Council in the past has discussed the concerns of the coffee outlets with customer tables and chairs being spread over public land, as well as hire craft taking up riverbank space.

"Far from wanting to reduce the ambience, the amenity and the utility of Noosaville foreshore park, I want to protect it for all users,” he said.

Cr Stockwell said the encroachments continued "despite specific letters to them in January and July” and real estate agents had told him to lease river front cafe premises would be about $80,000-$100,000 a square metre.

He said businesses across the street were less than happy with the approach by the council seeming to allow these "anti-competitive practises” to continue.

"What this motion is about is removing squatters from parkland.”

Mayor Tony Wellington appreciated Cr Stockwell's concerns but was not in favour of directing staff on how to act, preferring to let them treat each case on its merits.

The council last night was to vote on the mayor's motion to support a Department of Natural Resources and Mines' compliance action and for the council to enter into memorandum of understanding with the for suggesting "a joint inspection program.”

"People should be given an opportunity to take appropriate actions before our local laws begin impounding private goods,” the mayor said.

Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie said the council wanted to see all breaching leaseholders get back within their lease areas, but he believed Cr Stockwell's approach was "an unreasonable exercise of powers.”

Cr Ingrid Jackson said: "Our residents and our visitors delight in having a cup of coffee on the river throughout all these different little kiosks.”

"I would prefer to see council advocating with DNRM to allow a reasonable ancillary business to their marine business, which includes the kind of services that are like cafes, that are being provided already.”

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