Karate school to be shut after years of illegal operation
THE fight to keep a controversial karate studio open has come down to safety concerns, after Lismore City Council voted to reject the business's Development Application.
The Northern Rivers Shukokai Karate Dojo on Keen St, Girards Hill, has gone through a lengthy process with council to change the building's use from a historical industrial land use to an indoor recreational facility.
However, after neighbours' noise complaints and a long list of inadequate reports provided to council by the proponent, including insufficient information about noise impacts and fire safety, council voted 6-2 to reject the DA at Tuesday's meeting.
Dojo owner Barry Potts addressed council ahead of the meeting alongside his supporters.
Mr Potts acknowledged the council had previously approved an additional 60 days for him to address concerns over his DA, but said he was unable to meet a "convoluted time-frame" after he submitted documents within the 60 days, before being told he missed the deadline for the council report ahead of the October meeting.
However, director of Partnerships, Planning and Engagement, Dr Sharon Harwood told the chamber Mr Potts had been unable to satisfy some of the mandatory safety requirements needed for a indoor recreational facility.
Council debated whether to allow Mr Potts more time to get his reports in order, before it was determined to be illegal because council would be wilfully allowing the business to operate unlawfully.
Deputy Mayor Elly Bird sympathised with Mr Potts' situation but ultimately had to side with the legislation.
"This is one of those decisions that is incredibly difficult. I absolutely hear the value this karate school brings to the community," Cr Bird said.
"This is by no way a judgement of the teaching that Barry provides to his students.
"It is by no way a judgement to the activity within that building.
"We can't bend the rules. We don't have the legal ability to do that.
"This business is operating illegally and unlawfully for two years."
Earlier, Mr Potts had informed the council he would be lodging a formal complaint against the planning department.
"I'm here to teach the kids and I don't have the resources to go through the financial strain I've been put through this time round," Mr Potts said.