Topics:  ballina shire council, ballina surf club, david wright, jali aboriginal land council, keith johnston

Land claim threat to surf club

The surf club building at Lighthouse Beach in 2004 before demolition. Jacklyn Wagner
The surf club building at Lighthouse Beach in 2004 before demolition. Jacklyn Wagner

NEGOTIATIONS are continuing between Jali Aboriginal Land Council and Ballina Shire Council over land claim issues at the site of the new, $5.8 million Ballina surf club.

But that won't stop the council pushing forward with plans to realign Compton Dr, which needs to be done as part of the development.

Legal advice obtained by the council indicates that it can, without consent from Jali, lodge and determine a development application, apply to modify the existing development consent and determine the application, and obtain a construction certificate for the existing development consent and act upon it.

"Based upon this advice construction of the road can proceed," a recent report to the council's commercial services committee states.

The report also indicated that work needed to keep progressing because of the $2.3 million grant from the Federal Government.

Cr Keith Johnson said it was imperative to get the land claim issues sorted out "as quickly as possible".

Cr David Wright agreed: "The last thing we need is pressure on funding and, if we don't make these steps now, we are no further along (in the process)."

Aboriginal land claims were lodged with Office of the Registrar on behalf of Jali in December 2010.

However the council was not formally advised and only became aware of the claims in July 2011, after being advised by a third party.

Staff has now entered into negotiations with Jali but a compromise has not yet been reached.

Jali's chief executive Veronica Williams, in a letter to The Northern Star, said they were "working closely with the Shire to make sure the new club can be accommodated".

"A new, updated and contemporary surf club is needed. It's an important community benefit," she wrote.



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