By Dominique Tassel
Careys Road residents have now escalated their complaints against the Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) to Queensland Ombudsman Anthony Reilly.
The Emu Vale families have been fighting SDRC for a kennel near their homes.
The families represented themselves before the planning and environmental court earlier this year.
After mediation, the case was settled and the Cook family revised their plans for the kennels.
The new plans envisaged that there would no longer be a dog waste pit and that all animal waste would now go into a bio-cycle treatment plant and therefore not be composted on green spaces as originally planned.
The spokeswoman for families opposed to the kennel, Amelia Willmer, said the court does not have the authority to consider how councils are behaving and that this is a big part of their appeal.
“We have been advised to direct this part of our appeal to the Queensland Ombudsman instead,” she said. “We prepared a 15-page complaint, backed it up with hard evidence, and filed it last week.”
Amelia said the families involved are all still “really angry and disappointed by the disrespectful way this council has treated us and it should be held accountable for being so unfair, careless and unreasonable in the way it was done.” was how they mishandled the planning application from start to finish.” .
She said they were having issues with the notification process where one family was not notified due to an easement between the two properties.
“And that’s despite the fact that this family’s kitchen, master bedroom and family room looked like a hammer in the spot that was also designated for an open reservoir for dog poo,” Amelia said.
“This is just one example of the many unfair issues we have raised with the Ombudsman.”
Amelia said her complaint goes beyond this one case and reflects issues that affect every single citizen in this region.
“Our case shows how we are all powerless, speechless and vulnerable when we have a problem because none of us have our own local council to go to,” she said.
Because there are no departments in the area, Amelia said they were told they had to email all nine council members, including the mayor, if they inquired about the kennel.
“How ridiculous and inefficient is that?”
Amelia said all nine council members replied saying they were not allowed to participate and her email was eventually forwarded to the CEO.
“The CEO emailed us to let us know that not only were council members not allowed to be involved, but council officials would not be contacting us until the kennel filings were closed,” she said. “We didn’t have anyone to answer our questions about the submission.”
“None of us have ever dealt with a request for a significant change of use in our lives, and we had no idea how to interpret the city plan, which is a huge document full of contradictions and clauses and dense bureaucratic wording.”
Amelia believes they deserve someone to guide us through creating a submission.
“We asked for help and were totally ignored,” she said.
Amelia said her battle with the SDRC lasted nine months and the SDRC consistently ignored our emails and letters during that time.
“Although we reported 179 incidents of nuisance barking over a five-month period, they never acknowledged a single report, let alone acted on it,” she said. “How rude, arrogant, and passive-aggressive is that?”
Amelia said she believes people in smaller communities in our area need their own council.
“If only we had our own City Council for the Yangan-Emu Vale area, someone who knew us and our area and who actually wanted to actively listen to our concerns, someone who understood the city planning system and the problems it poses so that we can have a good one can submit.
Divisions have been a topic of conversation at most recent Connecting with Council meetings.
SDRC confirmed earlier this year that they would be looking for divisions in the second half of this year.
The SDRC must submit an application by March 2023 if partitions are to be considered for the region.
The SDRC will reportedly travel to villages to interview and consult with locals on the issue of partitions, then speak in chambers and make a recommendation.
The issue of divisions in the region came up at both the Leyburn and Allora Connecting with Council meetings last year.
Leyburn locals said the community felt separate and unrepresented by the SDRC.
They said they wanted a city representative; someone who knows the area and can communicate with the SDRC for you.
At the Allora meeting before that, a local explained that they “have no representation at this end of the Shire”.
An SDRC spokesman stated that “the Council conducted a thorough investigation into the complaints and noise diaries previously filed with the Council and forwarded correspondence to one of the submitters on May 16, 2022.”
“The review included a compilation of the noise logs submitted and took into account the Environmental Protection Act 1994 relating to regulated noise.
“The correspondence acknowledged that while there is some strong evidence of high noise incidents, the Court-approved design changes to the housing enclosure for all animals will have a significant impact on noise reduction through the use of the animal facility.
“The agreed design changes implemented as part of the court approval will have a significant impact on reducing and mitigating noise for all recorded incidents, including those recorded Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m .
“The Council will continue to monitor the implementation of the court approval and determine whether further steps are needed.”