Waste of money: Graham Ford, of Mountain Top Coffee, is upset at being forced by the Lismore City Council to spend $110,000 to build a new access road on his property, when the council road that services it is in a ‘disgraceful state’.
Waste of money: Graham Ford, of Mountain Top Coffee, is upset at being forced by the Lismore City Council to spend $110,000 to build a new access road on his property, when the council road that services it is in a ‘disgraceful state’. Jay Cronan

$110,000 paid for road to nowhere

THREE years on, Graham Ford, of Mountain Top Coffee, can still only shake his head in disbelief at the ‘inflexibility’ and lack of ‘common sense’ by the Lismore City Council.

When his family decided to subdivide their plantation to hive off an old home, he was instructed by the council to build an $110,000 road to the single residence off Mountain Top Road, Nimbin.

His frustration not only stems from the fact the new 250 metre by 7 metre road only goes to one house, but also it meant he could no longer finance the planting of 15,000 additional coffee trees.

To add further frustration, the council has so far refused to improve Mountain Top Road, which is essentially little more than a pot-hole ridden track.

“If this road was linked to a subdivision with 20 or 30 houses there would be some justification for it, but in my view I might as well have stood out here and torn up $110, 000,” he said.

“The irony of all of this is that the new road, which will only service one house, joins Mountain Top Road, which carries hundreds of vehicles each month, including school buses and trucks, and by any measure is a disgraceful state of repair.”

Mr Ford said after he spoke with the council’s general manager Paul O’Sullivan and its director of development Lindsay Walker, both agreed the development condition lacked ‘common and economic sense’. However, the decision was backed by the council’s engineer.

Mr O’Sullivan is on leave and could not be contacted for comment. Mr Walker has left the council.

However, the council’s manager of development and compliance, Peter Jeuken, said it was standard practice for the developer to pay for any new road so the costs do not fall to ratepayers.

He said upgrading of Mountain Top Road would be based on priority, compared with other roads.

A 1.2km section of Mountain Top Road, from Stoney Chute Road, will be sealed in December about 3km short of Mr Ford’s property.

Mr Ford said yesterday the council’s ‘negativity’ was ‘the straw that broke the camels back’ and he had shelved plans to build a coffee training centre at the plantation.



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