Friday 27 March 2009

How a site notice provoked Paul O’Sullivan’s ire

The following story submitted by Paul O'Sullivan is one I am sure others can sympathize with ...

I visited my parent’s house last week, stayed for a couple of days and walked a lot around my old neighbourhood. On one of these walks I noticed several planning site notices, more than five, stapled to utility poles and hung on walls. All dated back further than five weeks, the statutory time-period for display of a site notice. In fact, one went back to 2003.

Not knowing either of the applicants I contacted the local authority, was passed along to the planning enforcement department and informed my complaint would be needed in writing, that there were forms and these could be sent via email. Two days later and no response I emailed the department with a simply outline of the simple query.

Five days later, two of which were weekend days, a member of the planning enforcement emailed, informing me the planning regulations did not cover enforcement proceedings against an applicant who had failed to remove their site notices. The regulations only stated that site notices must be removed and as the matter was now a litter concern I should contact the local area litter warden, for whom a number was provided, and in the event that the local authority might take action against the public utility provider I should also contact them.

For the record, the local area litter warden was a member of the same local authority as the member of planning enforcement, but for some reason direct contact was not considered.

In a response I refuted responsibility for the matter. As a third-party citizen who merely raised the issue I did not see how the onus could fall on me to pursue it further. I also suggested the response panged of passing-the-buck and a letter of complaint would be made to the local authority. In addition, a letter would be sent to the Department of Environment suggesting that an amendment to the regulations be made to cover the issue; if there were more than five within a short distance, I could only assume the same problem existed throughout the country.

Sure, in practical terms the problem may be innocuous. What provoked such ire was the principle of how the situation was handled, or not as the case may be, by the local authority. In short, it was indicative of many of this state’s problems.

Since not more than a day has passed since sending, I await reply from the Department of Environment.

Paul O'Sullivan

No comments: