Katherine council's 'dereliction of duty'
Sir – Many Katherine residents were surprised when the Development Consent Authority (DCA) authorized the conversion of a shed in Katherine (pictured) to a premises intended to be used as a hotel.
It was particularly surprising when considering the car parking situation and other community concerns.
The developer was able to supply only 19 on-site car parks of the 52 required by legislation. The DCA exempted the developer from supplying 33 car parks, thus necessitating the extensive use of on-street car parking with its associated traffic flow and public safety problems.
When the developer applied for a liquor license for the proposed hotel, there were numerous objections from community members and organisations. The objections were based primarily on an expected increase in noise and antisocial behavior in the neighborhood.
The police lodged an objection saying that another liquor outlet in town would increase alcohol consumption and violence in Katherine.
The Catholic Church, directly across the road from the premises, objected together with the Katherine Liquor Accord and several health and Indigenous organisations and business houses in the area.
The Katherine Region Action Group (KRAG) also lodged an objection. The aim of this long established group of like-minded stakeholders is to minimize alcohol related harm in the community.
Members of the group include the police and several health organisations and the Katherine Town Council. The Mayor of Katherine regularly attends the KRAG monthly meetings on behalf of the council.
Despite having been asked by community members to lodge an objection to the license, the council failed to do so. Three of the council’s aldermen voted in support of the council lodging an objection while three voted for no council objection.
The Mayor used her casting vote to support the latter three, hence there was no council objection.
In addition to not voting for an objection in its own right, the council failed to support the KRAG. The Katherine Town Council was derelict in its duties to the Katherine community and to the Katherine Region Action Group.