I am one of a large group of residents at Palm Grove and the surrounding area who have objected, and continue to object strongly, to an unauthorised dog breeding and boarding operation at 604 Ourimbah Creek Rd.
We are utterly dismayed at the recent decision of the Local Planning Panel (LPP) for retrospective approval of this unauthorised intensive French Bulldog breeding enterprise which has been operating since July 2019.
As a result of a seriously flawed system, despite appropriate and considered intervention by Council officers, including a Senior Compliance Officer and Planning Officer, the business was permitted to entrench itself and expand over 16 months.
Throughout this period, the applicants of DA97/2020 demonstrated utter contempt for Council’s compliance directives to cease operation, demolish structures and, as I understand, to pay fines.
Council’s perceived and quite real impotence in the matter resulted in extensive time and unnecessary cost to the ratepayers as a result of compliance officers, planning officers, environmental officers and rangers all needing to be involved with very little useful outcome.
The impact on the community was also substantial, as can be verified in documentation to Council and through frequent phone calls.
The applicant delayed and prevaricated and failed to produce reports in a timely fashion.
The DA was eventually submitted with inadequate reports provided in a number of key areas.
That saga lives on, with the LPP requesting yet another acoustic report, while we already have 16 months of diarised noise, recordings, the accuracy of which was attested to through visits by environmental officers.
Council received 45 submissions objecting to the DA from our small but concerned community, all strongly recommending rejection of the proposal.
The submissions were broad based addressing animal welfare, unsuitability for the local area, impact on public amenity, environmental and other concerns including compliance issues, in addition to the serious noise impacts of this intensive French Bulldog breeding business.
This is a breed which the RSPCA is attempting to ban because of the multiple and serious health issues they suffer and the problems that these so-called designer dogs experience are well documented.
These fashionable dogs can sell for up to $10,000, a seriously lucrative business with breeders often operating with high levels of secrecy, selling dogs online through third parties.
After months of painstaking work to ensure that due process was followed, Council’s recommendation to the Local Planning Panel was to reject the proposal.
As there was a large number of submissions, the DA was sent to the LPP, but we were reassured that this would be a transparent process undertaken with integrity, that there would be a community representative so that we could be sure that local concerns would get a fair hearing.
What a disappointment!
The process has been totally opaque with minimal communication, and following the online forum with not even the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting, at which six our community members spoke of our concerns, there was deafening silence.
Was the community representative really our representative as he doesn’t live anywhere near Palm Grove, he doesn’t know anything about our environment, our area, our lifestyles?
Just last week, following a nine-minute meeting, the Planning Panel announced that there would be a trial of the dog breeding business over the next 15 months, and yet another acoustic report.
Most importantly, any imposed conditions will mean nothing to an applicant who has flouted every directive and request to date.
Multiple areas of concern expressed in the submissions have not been addressed at any stage by the Panel, or appear to have been acknowledged, but it’s difficult to be certain with no communication, sharing of information or rationale.
This is unacceptably disrespectful and fundamentally offensive.
What more do we have to do as a community to say no?
Sadly, it appears that unauthorised activity and non-compliance is to be rewarded yet again.
We need to seriously address our processes and systems to ensure that non-compliance and flouting of directives from Council are never, ever rewarded.
Email, Dec 15
Gaye Murrills, Palm Grove