By ERWIN CHLANDA
Prominent local artists Kaye and Bob Kessing are listed as owners of land on which a subdivision – likely to become controversial – is planned, although they are not the owners.
The error appears in documentation of the Department of Land, Planning and the Environment put before the public for comment for 28 days.
The deadline for comments is tomorrow (Friday) but Rod Cramer, chair of the Alice Springs Rural Area Association, says: “There is no reason why the department should not re-advertise the application.”
The subdivision, on Ross Highway, is proposed to have 16 blocks which are smaller than the two hectares (five acres) minimum size that the area’s current zoning requires.
Alice Springs has a long history of conflict over the reduction of block sizes, with neighbouring land owners protesting the impact on their lifestyle. The Kessings, who have sold the land, are livid to be linked with “a project involving 16 blocks smaller than the current adjacent zoning allows.
“Bob and I are definitely not the owners. We are extremely embarrassed,” says Ms Kessing.
Their name appears on an application to Lands Minister Dave Tollner to rezone Lot 9306 at 589 Ross Highway “from Zone R (Rural) to a Specific Use zone, and subdivide to create 16 lots”.
In fact the land had been sold by the Kessings to Mark Baldissera before they had been aware of the details of the proposed subdivision.
They say they would have never given their approval for block sizes that in conflict with the present zoning, and that would change “the character of the area”.
The Alice Springs News Online has left messages for Mr Baldissera and the department of Lands, requesting comment.
Submissions (including objections) can be made by delivering them in writing to the department before 4pm tomorrow, or emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org before midnight tomorrow.
UPDATE 8am October 24:
The new owner of the land, Mark Baldissera, says he informed Kaye and Bob Kessing about his plans for the land before the sale took place.
Mr Baldissera, who could not be contacted for comment on Thursday, says not only has the number of blocks been communicated to the Kessings, but also the exact sizes of all proposed lots. 13 of the 16 lots are well under two hectares.
He says it was an “error by the department” that the Kessings were identified as the owners in information put before the public for comment. He understands that the department has apologised to the Kessings. (The department has still not returned calls from the Alice Springs News Online.)
Mr Baldissera, who previously developed adjoining land as rural residential blocks of no less than two hectares, says like building heights, policies about block sizes are “on the table” and permission for smaller blocks has recently been given to three other applicants.
Meanwhile acting lands minister Adam Giles yesterday granted an Exceptional Development Permit for 165 Ross Highway “for the purpose of a subdivision to create three lots”, allowing smaller lots than the zoning provides.
He says in a Notice of Decision: “The land is in Zone RL (Rural Living) … and the development would otherwise be prohibited due to two of the proposed lots being less than the minimum area requirements.”
Reasons for the decision “are available from the offices of the Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment,” says Mr Giles, and he gives the address.
He gives no details about any online access to the document.
By ERWIN CHLANDA