Rusty Moran of Gerringong Surf School says his decision to appeal to the Land & Environment Court about some of the conditions on his DA to operate at Gerroa was done a last resort.
“The conditions of the consent prohibit operating in Zone A [the northern end] for 7 and a half months of the year,” he says.
“They will make my business unviable to operate.”
He says he first had meetings with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, General Manager and Director Environment Services to seek their help in effecting a conciliation, but was told it was inappropriate for them to do so.
He has also sought to build bridges with other groups using the beach, to find a way for it to work for everyone.
“I have made every effort possible to find a middle ground.”
As part of this, he originally applied for an expedited hearing, to be held on 20 August, a day before the new conditions are due to come into effect, but says Council’s lawyers perferred a later date. A mediation conference is now set down for 20 February, where opposing views will be able to be aired.
“My preference is for us to be able to mediate a solution, rather than relying on a judgment,” says Mr Moran.
He has legal advice the appeal process means that Council’s DA is suspended until the Court makes a determination, effectively meaning he can continue its operations at Gerroa over the summer.
Council is of the opinion that the DA is valid, despite the legal process, and surf schools will need to comply with all relevant conditions of consent from 21 August.
Mr Moran says he is sick of the campaign against him and his business.
“I have people driving past taking photos hoping to dob me in to Council.
“Haven’t people got better things to do?”
He says there has been damage to his property and untruths spread.
He sees the latest complaints, discussed at the July Local Traffic Committee Meeting, about Gerringong Surf School using residential roads and the carpark at Boat Harbour for skating lessons as part of this campaign.
“If there is a road that isn’t being used, what’s the harm?
“There is nowhere for kids to learn to skateboard in Gerringong.
“The net upside is far greater given the benefits of teaching kids to skate.”
At its July Meeting, Council endorsed the Local Traffic Committee’s motion to send a letter to Gerringong Surf School saying, while supportive of the classes in principle, they did not support them
on public roads without approved traffic and risk management processes.
In addition, it pointed out that any commercial activities on Council owned or managed land requires a lease or licence to be issued.
Local basketball courts or school grounds were suggested as an alternative location.
When we spoke with Mr Moran, he had not yet received the letter or been contacted by the Police.
“I think these complaints are a red herring, put out by people opposed to the Surf School.
“I can’t see the problem.”