$3k clearance mistake: Four-year council battle comes to end
A COUPLE who illegally cleared their property and listed it for sale at $1.5 million have been ordered to pay for Sunshine Coast Council's investigations during a four-year court battle.
The council originally took David and Cheryl McKenna to court in 2016 after they received complaints about clearing and fill on the property, bordering Lake Weyba.
The council was successful in obtaining an enforcement order that the couple complete remediation work, including revegetation, of an area of cleared and filled land on the property at 155 Clarendon Rd, Peregian Beach.
In November 2018, council again took the McKennas to the Planning and Environment Court, as they had failed to comply with the order.
The council sought they be punished for contempt of court.
A judgment originating from that application was handed down earlier this month and stated that as of January 24 this year, the couple had complied with the enforcement order, and subsequently they were not found to be in contempt of court.
Judge Gary Long did, however, rule in the council's favour to recover $3580.12 in costs it had forked out for two council officers to "investigate or gather evidence" for the court proceeding.
The council outlined this included a total of 41 hours that the officers conducted site visits on April 18, 2018, and a further 20 hours in respect of five inspections between September 20, 2018, and December 3, 2019, related to the enforcement of the order made on July 30, 2018.
The court refused to award costs for a further six hours of work, charged at $87.32 an hour, that the council claimed was time the officers spent "for legal meetings".
At the time of the originating application in 2018, the property was listed for sale for $1.5 million.
The court approved the council's restraining order, which prevented the sale of the property without establishing the required vegetation.
They also wanted Mr McKenna to supply the council with a $28,265.60 cash bond as security in case it had to do works it had wanted the couple to undertake.
A council spokesman said the McKennas had established the required vegetation, which satisfied court orders, and no further action was required by either party.
According to Core Logic property data, Cheryl McKenna still owns the property after the land was bought in 2015.
It was listed for sale on July 28, 2017, and remained on the market for one year.