Council red tape a spoke in wheel for tool supplier
By DOMINIC FEAIN email@example.com LISMORE small business owner Butch Verardo wishes his business was in Ballina.
Mr Verardo's expanding business, Summerland Tools, has been struggling to keep up with demand in its crammed premises on Union Street, but moving is giving him a red tape headache.
He has been seeking approval for 14 months to build facilities in Wilson Street.
Approval was granted in October last year, dependent on the block being widened to accommodate turning room for trucks.
Mr Verardo purchased another 10-metre strip of land next door which fell under a different sub-division and is waiting for Lismore City Council to OK it before he can build.
"I don't believe we even needed the turning room as I don't use big trucks. At this rate it will be another six months before we can get started," he said.
"I have spent $12,000 advertising in the new Yellow Pages, and now we will not be ready in time.
"Lismore City Council is sending business away. I would move to Ballina in a flash but many of my customers come from Casino, Kyogle and Bonalbo.
"I know a lot of people with similar applications in Ballina which seem to take half the time to process."
Lismore councillor and town planning consultant Graham Meineke agrees there is a problem
"In our 2005 resident satisfaction survey 52 per cent of respondents were happy with their development application process whereas in 2007 only 42 per cent felt the same.
That's a fall of 10 per cent in two years," he said.
"I think it's clear council needs to improve on its planning and development application process."
The council's economic development manager Ruth Povall believes many delays in development and building application can be avoided with proper planning.
"We have a new service specifically for business people wanting to expand. We want them to come and see us very early in the process, before they commit to or purchase land and equipment, so we can walk them through the process and manage their expectations," she said.