Ernie Olofsen got the right result after last Wednesday’s council meeting but it was a while coming.
Ernie Olofsen got the right result after last Wednesday’s council meeting but it was a while coming. Averyll Loft

Application process worth the wait

LO AND behold were the words that sprung to the Danish mind of Ernie Olofsen on Wednesday evening when the 79-year-old Maryborough resident checked his inbox.

Long after a planning application had set him on a bureaucratic trail that twisted and turned but didn’t seem to get anywhere, he had turned up at Wednesday morning’s council meeting to make known his frustration.

He had decided to divide in two a 2.5-acre block of land at Nerada Road after open heart surgery had put an end to his working days. His development application was lodged in August 2008.

“Then we got a little bit of a run-around,” he told Wednesday’s meeting.

He didn’t argue when he was told his application amounted to a $2480 reconfiguration rather than a $950 “split-a-block”.

“I could forget the subdivision or I could follow the rules and do as the Romans do.”

But as he pursued his application the trail began to be littered with obstacles. By the time he had to turn to the ombudsman, his patience had begun to wear a touch thinner.

Eventually, he says, he was presented with the documentation to sort out a covenant problem on the day he called into the council with a photograph for consideration.

“I was getting a bit sick and tired of it,” the Fraser Coast resident of eight years said.

“It took me 13 months. It should have taken a few weeks.

“We just love it here. We don’t want to be forced to leave.”

So he turned up at last Wednesday’s meeting of the Fraser Coast council and during public participation asked the council to have a heart.

“We were told by someone in similar circumstances that someone could spend $30,000 with an application and be told ‘No’. Not this boy.”

Mayor Mick Kruger responded by providing him with an instant consult with director of planning and development David King, whose email followed with good news later the same day.

“I was very pleased with the end result but they do need a little shake-up, I think.

“If they drive their cars the same speed they do their work in the council office, they will never be caught for speeding. I know things take time but you have to draw the line some time.”

The council’s executive manager for development assessment, Michael Ellery, said yesterday that a one-size-fits-all approach was not possible because every subdivision was different and would be subject to different requirements which could vary with the planning schemes.

“Anyone considering subdividing their property can refer to all the planning schemes online to see if their idea is consistent with the planning scheme for their area.”

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