Fennell Bay man to fight for BBQ in court case

FENNELL Bay’s Peter Buckley has flown home from his job in India to fight for his under-siege barbecue.

Lake Macquarie City Council has ordered him to remove the barbecue and surrounding pergola.

Mr Buckley, who is working overseas on a two-year mining contract, challenged the order in the Land and Environment Court and a hearing will be held today in his yard.

Mr Buckley’s barbecue came to the council’s attention after he applied to build a new house on his Macquarie Road land.

He spent about $25,000 three years ago to build the stainless steel outdoor barbecue on his land, with a pergola, pavers and furniture.

A professional builder did the work, but did not gain council approval.

Mr Buckley’s land adjoins LT Creek and the council said it was subject to a 14-metre foreshore building line, which had been in place since 1988.

Mr Buckley said the council approved his shed inside the foreshore building line in 1998.

‘‘I’ve offered to pull the shed down to keep the barbecue, but they aren’t interested,’’ he said. He did not understand why the council was pursuing him, while others in his area had barbecues and other structures inside the 14-metre line.

‘‘This is about being singled out,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s about being able to do what you want in your own backyard.

‘‘If we can’t use 14 metres of our backyard, should we be paying rates on it?’’

A council statement said the council believed that ‘‘if it does not pursue matters such as these, it sets an undesirable precedent for the community in future’’.

The statement said some properties in the area ‘‘predate existing planning controls’’.

‘‘Owners of other properties found to have illegal constructions within the foreshore building line will be pursued in time,’’ it said.

Mr Buckley will spend more than $35,000 on the court case, including payments to a lawyer and barrister.

He tried to rectify the problem by following council advice to retrospectively apply for a building certificate.

He spent $10,000 on consultants and council fees to prepare the application, but the council refused it.

He was disappointed the council told him that court was the only way to resolve the conflict.

‘‘This whole thing has got out of hand,’’ he said.

The council statement said Mr Buckley ‘‘instigated the court action against council’’.

Mr Buckley said he repeatedly asked the council to supply information about the foreshore building line.

‘‘They only supplied it once the court directed them to.’’

The council said information was publicly available about the foreshore building line, which was a line planners set on land fronting any bay, river, creek, lake, lagoon, harbour or ocean.

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