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On the brink of bankruptcy

Dennis and Vicki Fry on the land they have been trying to develop for six years.
Dennis and Vicki Fry on the land they have been trying to develop for six years. Sharyn O'Neill

DENNIS and Vicki Fry are on the brink of bankruptcy and aren't sure how they have maintained their sanity after six years of trying to develop a parcel of land in Parkhurst.

The mum and dad developers, who have sunk their life savings into the project, say their lives have been ripped apart by Rockhampton Regional Council's obstructive attitude, constant knockbacks and lack of assistance.

The couple, from Townsville, came to Rockhampton this week for a clear-the-air meeting with Mayor Brad Carter, council chief executive Evan Pardon and a senior planning officer, but fear it may be too late.

The meeting was organised by former mayor Lea Taylor.

"After six years of hell they have finally promised to be 'positive' with us, but we are only days and weeks from going under," said Dennis.

The CEO said he would advise the Crime and Misconduct Commission of allegations of misconduct by council officers relating to the application.

Cr Glenda Mather has suggested there should be an external investigation into the way council planners treated the couple.

The couple had plans drawn up for an estate of 50 low-cost homes on a 4.8 hectare site on Norman Rd, Parkhurst and were told at a pre-lodgement meeting with council officials in May 2006 that it was the sort of development the region needed.

"The land had been used as a scrap yard and so we had it decontaminated to make it fit for housing," said Dennis, who expected the development would take about two years.

Six years later the site is still vacant and Dennis and Vicky need to sell it as soon as possible to keep their heads above water.

They have spent their life savings on mortgage repayments, decontamination and fees to engineers, surveyors, town planners and water experts.

The couple sought mediation and was granted a development approval.

But the 20 conditions applied were so vague the Frys say they have no idea how much it might cost to meet them.

Dennis said potential buyers had told them they had found the council hostile and unco-operative.

Vicki said the way they had been treated, the lack of communication, consideration and help, had taken them to the edge of bankruptcy and ill health.

"Every time they said no, we spent tens of thousands of dollars on engineering fees to address the issues they raised. But the council just kept saying no without ever giving us any idea what we needed to do to satisfy them.

"Instead of helping us I believe they went out of their way to be obstructive."

The couple became so desperate they raised their plight with councillors, MPs, government ministers, the Attorney General Paul Lucas and the Premier, Anna Bligh.

"The only person to offer any assistance has been Lea Taylor who has shown us compassion and understanding and represented us well at the meeting this week. We thank him for his concern."

Topics:  bankruptcy, debt, land, property


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