No council okay on 50 buildings
ONE of the Lockyer Valley's largest family businesses is in damage control mode following revelations that more than 50 buildings at its Plainland site were erected without council approval.
Lockyer Valley Regional Council this month issued Gehrke Grains and Transport with a show cause notice, threatening them with a $166,500 fine if they fail to comply.
The notice relates to 49 silos, a hard stand area for the loading and unloading of shipping containers, an 84m by 18m building, a car port, an equipment control building, a conveyor structure, two molasses storage silos, an office building and a maintenance shed - all of which council refers to as “unlawful development”.
Gehrke Grain and Transport received the notice on August 14 and was given 20 business days to respond.
Co-owner Julian Gehrke said the 60-year-old family-owned business was working on a response to the show cause notice and was confident of sorting through all of its issues with council and neighbouring residents, who in the past year have been vocal in their opposition to the company's operating hours, noise and dust emissions.
“I'm completely confident we can get this all sorted,” Mr Gehrke said.
“There is nothing on this site here that wouldn't get council approval - the land has been zoned for that purpose.”
An explanation for how the business was allowed to get away with building so many silos and other structures without council approval was not forthcoming; however, Mr Gehrke confirmed most of the illegal silos were put up in the 1980s - during the time of Laidley Shire Council.
It was understood Gehrke would lodge development and building applications with Lockyer Valley Regional Council for the silos and other unlawful structures.
Council's acting CEO Derek Sellers said the Gehrkes would have to provide full public notification along with any new development applications.
“The logical thing for them to do now would be to sit down with members of the community and council and work this out,” Mr Sellers said.
Plainland resident John Munro, whose house is in Nathan Court, adjacent to Gehrke, said he was glad the business had been put to task over the development.
Mr Munro and other residents along the street have made numerous complaints about activities carried out by the grain and transport company.
The Gehrkes have already invested in independent noise and dust testing for the site and council recently sent in its own noise consultant to test noise levels.
The business has also cut back its operating hours.