It was an old-fashioned standoff in a right-of-way in Welcome Bay.
The contractors wanted to get into a subdivision for a concrete pour.
But there was a blockade. Three cars parked in the right-of-way and Sheila Tippett, leading the cause for the neighbours, waving a trespass notice under their noses. No one was going anywhere, and no work was getting done.
“The developer says it's costing him $10,000 a day while there's no work.” says Sheila. “For us it's a serious inconvenience.”
Sheila's not a firebrand – more a considered person with a keen sense of fairness and the right of a community to be consulted and informed.
“This is not me versus the developer, contractor or council. It's much bigger, it's a community concern and the council should take notice.”
After two weeks of the right-of-way being blocked, communications between all parties were restored, the trespass order withdrawn and a meeting between all parties scheduled.
But there are two issues here – first that right-of-way to Sheila's property off Osprey Drive. “It's under-sized,” says Sheila.
“And for 35 metres cars can't pass.” And it can't be widened.
The second issue is what Sheila calls inconsistencies – “We ask why some of us, and why not others of us.”
She is referring to her shed. She applied to council for permission to develop the shed into a 60 square metre cottage for her parents.
“But the council said no – we couldn't have an independent dwelling because of the undersized right-of-way. But you can have a sleep-out.”
Here's the inconsistency Sheila refers to. Because next door on the subdivision where Sheila believed there would be a maximum of three new homes, there will now be four, possibly adding at least two cars each to an already congested right-of-way.
The council acknowledged the right of way was too narrow, says Sheila, but then took a ‘discretionary decision' in approving four new homes on the subdivision.
“It seems inconsistent. And had we been aware, we would have made submissions and the outcome for this development could have been quite different.”
In a statement to Sun Media, the council's environmental planning officer Natalie Rutland says that at 101 Osprey Drive there's an existing driveway which serves five properties, the subdivision site and 103 and 107 Osprey Drive.
Council considered the effects of allowing an extra site to use the driveway, and granted the subdivision with conditions. The subdivision of the three properties into four fits with the city plan's density rules.
Sheila is still not happy for this project to proceed.
She says the council's inconsistency was highlighted by another neighbor who applied for consent to add a room to his house.
“Not a new dwelling, but a room,” says Sheila. “But he wasn't allowed to because of his undersized drive.”
Again, says Sheila, council seems to have one rule for existing residents and another for developers.
Sheila says the council didn't consult neighbours because it didn't believe they were impacted.
And Sheila only found out about the extent of the subdivision when a services plan blew over the fence and landed in her flower bed.
“But we are impacted,” says Sheila.
“The congestion in the right-of-way will affect us. It'll affect the value of our property depending on the quality of houses going up and we don't know. It'll also impact traffic on Osprey Drive.”
She says cars are already hooting, screeching, stopping and starting on a busy Osprey Drive. “And now there will be the added traffic in and out of our right-of-way. Anyone going in will have to stop and back up to give way to cars coming out.”
Back up onto a busy Osprey Drive.
Then Sheila found some comfort.
“I spoke to councillors Bill Grainger and Terry Molloy who both believe I should have been consulted. And they have agreed to go back and find out why we weren't consulted. I am just concerned about the inconsistencies.”
The Sheila had a “lovely call” from the council's environmental planning manager, Natalie Rutland.
“She was just touching base and asking how things were going.”
Sheila's complaint to council had just landed on her desk and she said they'd be looking at the issue in the next couple of weeks.
Now Sheila is waiting to hear what comes of it all.