What is really going on here?

‘This’ is the Tea Gardens site, one of three in the Great Lakes area, owned by controversial developer Phillip Dong Fang Lee.

While the land has been the subject of various contested challenges and complaints for a decade, Midcoast Council needs to come up with some answers,  the community is now seriously worried, as photographs have come to light of the unauthorised work being done on this two thousand-plus hectare site in such a pristine location.

The developer has a history of abusing environmental laws – his Fame Cove site was fined over felled trees and damage to a protected marine sanctuary, and ordered to commence remediation work to repair the damage.

A more recent court case, last year, is puzzling in which Council  took action, but the result was a non event, a draw, with Council curiously agreeing that each party pay its own costs. This case was conducted by Lisa Schiff, on behalf of MidCoast Council, this has all occurred during Glenn Handford’s tenure at Council, as Planning Officer and, later, General Manager.

In early December, Cr Peter Epov sent a series of questions to General Manager Handford about the Tea Gardens development, as there seemed to be no DA’s or restrictions enacted by Council over Mr Lee’s development.

Cr Epov never received a reply, and shortly after Glenn Handford resigned in a surprise move.

For years, the local community and landowners have been concerned, but now seeing the extensive work being undertaken at Tea Gardens, citizens are worried at the potential environmental damage to the aquifers, lowering the water table and possible acid sulphur soil contamination to the residents’ water supply.

The Mayor’s response was that the Council has no proof that the aquifer has been breached, and responded thus  . . . “innuendo and rumours sweeping the community run the risk of derailing a fruitful and important investigation by the relevant authorities. My understanding is that there is no information that the aquifer has been breached.”

The Mayor has no information because no one in authority has been able to access the site until quite recently.

Mr Handford and Council have had dealings with Mr Lee  over many years. Surely Council should have queried Mr Lee’s activities on this third property at Tea Gardens, or will the correct approvals suddenly, and mysteriously, appear?

More to this saga, next issue of The Manning Community News. 

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13 Responses to What is really going on here?

  1. Jenny Little says:

    Am not jumping on the Council’s bandwagon but have learned that sometimes – despite which direction they would like to head – they are overruled by other official departments within our government system …. & this is not known and/or understood by most of us (me included). Just sometimes they have passed on information to relevant bodies, cannot by law reveal this action due to legal procedures or investigations & like the rest of us have to wait for decisions handed down via legal channels. All this takes time!

    I’m an oldie – have done my bit (tho’ still going)! It’s time for the younger folk to step up & take responsibility for the world they want to live in & what they pass on to their children, Stop whinging about the old folk who have been fighting for your community for generations (whether you agree with the old ideas or not) … Stand up & be engaged in the future you envisage for yourselves & your children.

    MANY of US started our “adult ” working lives at 12yrs old – Today there are folk who at over 30yrs still think they should be supported by parents & have no responsibilities. For Over Half a Century many of our local folk have worked their butts off for the community & are in their 70s & 80s – It’s your community & your turn now! …… Time to Step Up!

    • michael spalding says:

      for anyone interested you can go and see jenny’s absolute waterfront block at Bundabah. Funny thing though – all the trees magically disappeared and the block is fully cleared. Nice wter views. Oh the humanity if anyone else wants that. Her block ( the only one in the village ) was sub divided so the owner can make money. Another hypocritical geriatric whining away. you should join the one foot in the grave zimmer frame brigade at north arm cove. good news today. state government takes over major planning decisions from the uneducated dotty old geriatrics at council who dont have the skills to wipe their own backsides and wont get a say in major developments anymore. Time for you to shine Mr Lee and for the primary school geriatrics to shuffle off and leave it to the next generation.

  2. Peter Howard says:

    An excellent article MCN, and yes Council officers should be answering questions. It’s not good enough that Handford has resigned, the questions still need an answer.

    • JenGMA says:

      So is the mystery solved of why and where did our former Midcoast Council GM go?

      Further to my conversation with Mayor West back in January and my comment to the Taree and Surrounds Discussion Board where I Posted “What I also find interesting is that after a conversation with our Mayor it seems that now the General Manager has ‘NOT’ ‘been offered a position in the private sector ‘too good to refuse’ whatsoever but is rather starting up his own Town Planning Consultancy Firm. Interesting, when in the http://www.manningrivertimes.com.au dated DECEMBER 21 2017 – 12:00PM heading – Glenn Handford resigns from MIDCOAST COUNCIL “MidCoast Council general manager Glenn Handford says his decision to exit the top job “has been made quickly but not without deep consideration. Mr Handford made the shock announcement at the December 20 ordinary meeting of council and today advised,“I haven’t been seeking other jobs and I was surprised to be approached with an offer in the private sector.”

      … I would like to say Mayor West also said that if Mr Handford’s new business venture were to contract to the Billionaire property developer Mr Phillip Lee who is currently under investigation by 5 different government departments from Midcoast Council (again Mayor Wests words) in regards to what is happening at Tea Gardens with a major trench that may well affect the aquifers/bore water but also has issues with sulphate acid soils runoff he would have nothing more to do with him (or words to that affect). I would like to thank Mayor West for taking the time to chat with me about concerns that I have in regards to aquifers etc in that region and on other subjects.”

      According to the minutes of a local community group where Councilor Len Roberts spoke “Mr Glen Handford the former Midcoast Council General Manager has established a consulting company GJH Foster Consulting which may assist the developer Mr Lee in the preparation of future plans for the Fame Cover and other sites.”

      Its really hard to define the truth in regards to issues with Council and our region. Directly or indirectly this billionaire property developer seems to be able to lure staff away from this council particularly after he does something that may be an environmental disaster :/

  3. JenGMA says:

    So is the mystery solved of why and where did our former Midcoast Council GM go?

    Further to my conversation with Mayor West back in January and my comment to the Taree and Surrounds Discussion Board where I Posted “What I also find interesting is that after a conversation with our Mayor it seems that now the General Manager has ‘NOT’ ‘been offered a position in the private sector ‘too good to refuse’ whatsoever but is rather starting up his own Town Planning Consultancy Firm. Interesting, when in the http://www.manningrivertimes.com.au dated DECEMBER 21 2017 – 12:00PM heading – Glenn Handford resigns from MIDCOAST COUNCIL “MidCoast Council general manager Glenn Handford says his decision to exit the top job “has been made quickly but not without deep consideration. Mr Handford made the shock announcement at the December 20 ordinary meeting of council and today advised,“I haven’t been seeking other jobs and I was surprised to be approached with an offer in the private sector.”

    … I would like to say Mayor West also said that if Mr Handford’s new business venture were to contract to the Billionaire property developer Mr Phillip Lee who is currently under investigation by 5 different government departments from Midcoast Council (again Mayor Wests words) in regards to what is happening at Tea Gardens with a major trench that may well affect the aquifers/bore water but also has issues with sulphate acid soils runoff he would have nothing more to do with him (or words to that affect). I would like to thank Mayor West for taking the time to chat with me about concerns that I have in regards to aquifers etc in that region and on other subjects.”

    According to the minutes of a local community group where Councilor Len Roberts spoke “Mr Glen Handford the former Midcoast Council General Manager has established a consulting company GJH Foster Consulting which may assist the developer Mr Lee in the preparation of future plans for the Fame Cover and other sites.”

    Its really hard to define the truth in regards to issues with Council and our region. Directly or indirectly this billionaire property developer seems to be able to lure staff away from this council particularly after he does something that may be an environmental disaster :/

  4. michael says:

    it seems that every bit of land Mr Lee touches is “pristine”.
    that this particular lot has been dug up and ploughed into the ground 1000 times over a century doesnt get a mention means nothing eh? Its like the geriatrics over at NACRA barely able to stand propped up by their zimmer frames who all live in waterfront Mc Mansions resplendent with massive concrete driveways and slipways for the yachts moaning about Mr Lee on the other side of the bay as an environmental vandal. Try counting the trees on the members of MACRA’s lots. Its easy. None.
    Mr Lee is a farmer. He has bought huge swathes of farmland and is rehabilitating them. This is a standard irrigation channel as seen all across NSW. Id like all these arm chair experts to explain how it will effect the aquifer. Anyone commenting here who isnt an uneducated pensioner doing nothing living of tax payer money apart from me? Anyone even been outside the region?
    For the record all the people in Bundabah that actually work and arent social security bludgers actually support Mr Lee 100%. Its good to see tham all moving out and moving on further up the coast leaving the hard workers in peace.

  5. Patricia Brennan says:

    Hi Michael.
    You are SOOOO right! No-one before you has given us retirees at North Arm Cove the recognition we deserve. No-one before you has realised exactly how hard it is for us. With our zimmer frames, we must struggle through the maze of tree stumps that clutter our waterfront estates, safe-deposit boxes in tow, down long concrete slipways to our modest little floating gin-palaces. Never has anyone until now shown any sympathy for our plight.

    You are also so right about Mr Lee’s predicament. Here he is, doing everything that he could be doing as a champion of the environment in our region to preserve the ecological integrity of our streams, native bush and wetlands by digging them up. All this despite the malicious multiple court orders on him demanding restitution of his so-called degraded land at Fame Cove. Can you believe how he is being persecuted by our very own environmental authorities? What do the DPI and the EPA know about environmental vandalism? They’re just a bunch of stuffed Johnnies with nothing better to do than to make trouble for honest, hardworking farmers like Mr Lee!

    And you are so spot on about all the workers in Bundabah leaving to move north, leaving behind the hard workers (and social security bludgers) in peace! (Er – did I get this bit right?)

    Good on ya, Michael!

  6. Ross says:

    I live in Bundabah, I have a couple of degrees, have lived and worked in a number of countries, I’m not a social security bludger – still pay taxes and I DON”T support Mr Lee.

    So Michael you don’t speak for all of us.

    In fact the recent petition signed by many people from Bundabah like me suggests very few in the area support Mr Lee’s activities around Fame Cove.

    Well done MCN for highlighting these activities, if only the government and council would take action rather than merely investigate things.

  7. michael spalding says:

    from MidCoast water…
    MidCoast Water Services has a rigorous Drinking Water Quality Management System that includes a variety of tests on a regular basis. The recent tests indicate there is no change and the water continues to meet the requirements of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

    so complete silence once it was proved that no damage was done and the aquifer is fine. My my you lot have eggs on your face big time. And the GM has the brains and ability to set up his own company when most people writing here are bludging off society getting a pension and doing nothing but whining.

    • JenGMA says:

      According to my conversation with the Mayor they will not know the if there has been any damage or the extent of the damage for up to 5 years to the aquifers in that area …. Boy oh boy there seems to be a bit of brown tailing (usually because someone wants some sort of $ gain directly or indirectly cough cough) here to Mr Lee who continually seems to ignore Australian laws put in place for very good reasons … but hey China is in such great shape isn’t it .. cant believe why any would leave that pristine country to live in a country like Australia can you .. they have looked after it and there water sooo well.

  8. TianHu says:

    I`m only a Johnny Come Lately to all this discussion & now it`s July,,,,so what…if anything… is ACTUALLY happening…..I have read Michael Spaldings acidic remarks & don`t think he`s ON THE BALL (Spalding !)….also is it legal to have both parties in a dispute represented by the SAME LEGAL FIRM…..the waters are sure muddy……I`ve read that Mr.Lee has only cleaned out a canal that has been there for ages…..thanks for injecting some humour into this JenGMA.
    Now if everyone could take off the boxing gloves ,settle down & maybe get Mr.Lee on side & induce him to spend some of his billions to improve things like roads,bridges & other necessary infrastructure that Council can`t afford to do….I`m sure the tone of these comments would change…..a bitter community is not a happy community & by the way JenGMA…..China is doing more than any other country to try & alleviate pollution & climate change with millions of trees planted….more wind generators….more solar panels & now even skyscrapers that generate their own power & others covered in greenery.
    Oh….how`s that huge Indian coal mine going in Queensland ?

  9. Johnny Anderson says:

    It will be interesting to see how Lisa Schiffe fairs after this investigation. Oh….did somebody mention ICAC?

  10. Johnny Anderson says:

    It will be interesting to see how Lisa Schiffe fares after this investigation. Oh….did somebody mention ICAC?

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