Council forced to lease site to telco
A "POWERLESS" Ballina Shire Council has been forced to enter into a lease agreement with Optus over a telecommunications facility at Lennox Head.
In August 2011 Optus installed seven new antennas and a maintenance shelter at the water tower in Basalt Court.
Despite strong community opposition the council could not legally stop the telco from installing the equipment. It has now agreed to enter into a lease with Optus for the use of the site.
General manager Paul Hickey said it would be in the interests of the council to have a lease in place.
"Optus doesn't have to do this - they are already on our land," he said.
The annual rent will be $22,000 plus GST, increasing by 4% each year, and Optus will have to back-pay the rent from August 2011.
Mayor David Wright said the council had fully supported residents in their fight against Optus using the water tower.
"It's been one of the most frustrating issues we have had to deal with in a long time," he said.
But Lennox Head resident Sue Hetherington, from Worried Householders Action Against Tower, said Optus should not be able to use community land to increase its profits.
"Optus is not a local sporting group or a community group or a not-for-profit organisation," she said.
Mr Hickey said there were exemptions that enabled public utilities to use community land.