Joe Franz on his 400 acre Ringtail Creek property that he can’t do anything with.
Joe Franz on his 400 acre Ringtail Creek property that he can’t do anything with. Geoff Potterne

Nest egg gamble turns nightmare

SINCE the early 1990s Joe Franz and his family have owned rambling riverside properties near the mouth of Lake Cootharaba and surrounds, property most people could only dream about owning.

But the Franz grand plan to sell the 161ha property parcel for a $4.8 million retirement nest egg has turned into the stuff of nightmares – ever since the old Noosa Council went cold on the idea of buying them out to add to the former shire’s green-land bank.

Back in the mid-1990s the Franz land purchase for the public good almost seemed like a done deal.

Mr Franz claims that back then former Noosa councillor Bob Abbot even went public with a purchase price.

For whatever reason the negotiations stalled in March 1998, after Cr Abbot had been voted in as mayor of Noosa.

Now the Sunshine Coast Mayor, Cr Abbot said the events surrounding the land were a long time ago, but he recalled there was some council interest in buying the land.

However Cr Abbot said it was one of a number of other properties the council had been looking at, and in the end it had chosen others that may have not had such a high price.

Mr Franz said strict State Government open-space conservation and waterways protection designations coupled with the SEQ Regional Plan seemed destined to leave the property as little more than a cattle feed lot.

In recent times Mr Franz has tried to reignite council interest in buying his land by listing it through the council’s environment levy program acquisition of land nomination form.

“At first they said they’d take a look at it, but then said that it was not as environmentally significant as they once thought and that they had other priorities,” Mr Franz said.

“I have been trying to sell the land for the past five years, but because you can’t put anything more than a house on it, no one is interested.”

He said there were two lots of land – one 100ha parcel with extensive water frontage and a 60ha lot with a small water access.

He said the initial interest he has had from people who may be looking to develop the sites, dies when they learn of the constraints

Mr Franz said he had contemplated maybe a three-lot development, but there was a catch.

“They (the authorities) would want the water frontage (for a buffer zone of open space) and that is the most valuable part of the property.”

At one real estate website, the 100ha McKinnon Drive section is listed for sale at $3.2 million.

In April this year the Sunshine Coast council bought 32ha of lakeside land on Lake Cooroibah Road for more than $1.2 million, which is down the road from the Franz holding.

The 32ha of land was seen as a valuable link in the local ecosystem, with valuable biodiversity.

A council spokeswoman said on Wednesday that Council’s acquisition program was limited by available funds, with other high-priority properties on a council-endorsed program being pursued.

“As it is considered that the purchase of these properties will consume the budget for 2010 to 2011, this property owner has been advised that council is unable to progress his nomination at this time,” she said.

“However, the nomination will be kept on file.”

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