A Bunbury man is on the verge of winning a 10-year battle with Bunbury City Council to build a house on land just off Australind Bypass which was flagged for the Port’s expansion.
Retired florist Vic Howes went before the council last week to make an impassioned plea for approval to build a four-bedroom house on his property, from where he has grown and sold flowers for many years.
The Bunbury Port Authority and council staff told the council to reject Mr Howes’ proposal on the grounds it would adversely affect the Port’s plans.
But after more than an hour of debate, the council voted to change its position and support Mr Howes’ appeal.
The vote narrowly went in favour of Mr Howes by six to five.
Cr Brendan Kelly hit out at the Port’s position as a form of “passive bullying” after a decade of indecision on its plans.
“I’m not impressed with the BPA board, I don’t care if they’ve approved their own structure plan,” he said.
“It’s like me approving a plan to grow pigs in my backyard.”
A number of councillors expressed regret before voting against Mr Howes’ proposal, saying they would have loved to “stick up for the little guy”, but the Port’s plans had to be given priority. Bunbury Mayor David Smith said he sympathised with Mr Howes’ situation, but the Port’s plans were important.
“To be honest I don’t understand why the Port did not have to good sense and good grace to resume Mr Howes’ land a very long time ago,” Mr Smith said.
The Port Authority has approached Mr Howes to buy the site, but could not reach a deal on a price.
The authority said plans for the diversion of the Preston River, to take place in coming years, would result in it passing through Mr Howes’ land.If the council grants its final approval tonight, Mr Howes will then have to make his case to the WA Planning Commission for ultimate approval.
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