A COOLUM business that has been trading for 35 years has been forced to close because of a $300,000 price tag to comply with Sunshine Coast Council conditions.
When the lease for Coolum Sand and Gravel on South Coolum Rd was nearing its expiry date, Jody and Suzie Austin, who have owned the business for the past 10 years, decided to relocate to the Quanda Rd industrial estate.
Four months and $45,000 of their own money later, they hit a brick wall when they received their operational works approval.
It included a new requirement to concrete the entire 2100sq m site at an estimated cost of $100,000.
This would have taken the cost of compliance, which included a traffic management plan and a $22,000 contribution for footpaths and bikeways, to $300,000 – all for a $30,000 shed on land they did not own.
Suzie said the last-minute addition of the concreting requirement was the last straw.
“If that $100,000 wasn’t added on we would have still probably pushed and maybe tried to get there,” she said.
“Right at the end they’ve said ‘by the way, you need this traffic management control and that takes three weeks to put through an application’. No one told us that at the start.”
But worse was to come for the popular Coolum couple.
They thought they would be able to stay at South Coolum Rd until they resolved their situation because of a month-to-month extension of their lease with the property owner.
“Monday we got a one-sentence email,” Suzie said. “‘Vacate by first of September’.
“It’s just another local business gone. It’s very upsetting. We’ve got five staff who’ll be unemployed, not to mention all the sporting places that we sponsor.
“I’ve been devastated. It’s just a place that we’ve enjoyed working from so much.”
Suzie said she wanted to thank everyone “for all the good years”.
“I’ll just miss everyone because everyone that comes in are like friends,” she said.
“All our supplying reps – we’ve had a couple coming in this week – they’ve been leaving in tears. Ten years doing something, you make friends with these people.”
Suzie said she and Jody hoped to buy another business in Coolum in the future.
Councillor Vivien Griffin said the concreting condition in the Austin’s operational works approval was really the planning officer “asking them to lodge a request for a negotiated decision”.
“That’s when you can say, ‘Look, I think your conditions are unreasonable’.
“I would have been able to make representations had they come to me, but apparently they simply chose to withdraw the application instead.
“It’s regrettable and if I had the opportunity, certainly I would have made those representations to try and get a reasonable outcome all round.”
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