Thursday, 26 January 2017

What kind of track would it have been anyway?

One of the strange features of the Drywound Appeal against the Lockyer Valley Regional Council's decision to refuse the application for a motocross facility at Adare was the number of proposed track designs that were brought up during the Appeal process - 10 in all, between mid-April and mid-December 2016.  Over one period of 170 days there was a new track layout every 19 days on average.

Colby Steer, the sole Director of Drywound, put quite a bit of emphasis on his expertise in motocross track design and construction at one point in the Appeal.

But why so many track designs?  That's a bit hard to understand.  Clearly there was a problem with getting the noise levels at nearby houses and the Lockyer National Park down to something vaguely acceptable.  But there was no consistent incremental improvement in the noise characteristics of the designs put forward, despite Colby Steer's self-proclaimed expertise as a track designer.

Was it "gaming" the Appeal process to confuse the other parties' experts, or to draw it out and make it more expensive for the Council and the Co-respondents? We will never know.  If it was this, it backfired because it was Colby Steer who ran out of money in the end (see here).

Did all this revision of track designs produce a better track for riders?  You be the judge.

This was the last track design - put to the Court in early December 2016
There are two significant features of this design.  One is the three dark green features with the black lines in their middles.  The other is the seven sections of the track outlined in red.

The dark green features are three earth bunds, 5m high and 12m wide at the base, with a 3m high noise barrier on top.  That makes a total barrier height of 8m, with three of these barriers having a total length of 575m.

These massive barriers were introduced about a year into the Appeal process when it became clear that getting noise levels down to anything like acceptable was going to be very difficult.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be a spectator watching the bikes on this track - or a parent of a young rider, trying to keep an anxious eye on the kid as he/she goes around the track.  From most positions, around half of the track would be obscured by the middle 8m high barrier.

Or as a rider you come belting around that tight left-hand corner at the end of the bund in the south-western part of the track - but you can't get a view around the end of the bund to see if anyone has come off on the track up ahead.  Adds a new element to extreme sport.

What about those red sections of track?

They are also about noise reduction.  As everyone knows, when bikes go fast they make more noise, and throttle use (opening it all the way out) also makes more noise.  Two characteristics of a good ride, but they're noisy.  Track in the red sections has been subjected to "acoustic treatments" by eliminating jumps and introducing obstacles designed to reduce speed and throttle use.  Nearly 20% (1/5) of the total track length has had this treatment.

Not exactly an exciting ride, and I doubt there's another adult track in South-east Queensland that has this extent of fun-spoiling "acoustic treatment".

One other important limitation that can't be seen in this track design is the restrictions that would have to be placed on changes to the track layout. This would clearly matter to riders - surveys done in Victoria indicate that regular modifications to track layout are one of the features that keeps riders coming back to a track.

However, because of the emphasis on getting noise at nearby dwellings and the National Park down to acceptable levels, and the recognition that track direction and the positions of jumps have an effect on noise levels, if the motocross facility had been permitted at Adare there would have had to be conditions requiring the track layout not to be modified.  Boring!!

Maybe if the operation hadn't been refused permission it would soon have gone broke once riders got bored with the track.  And that's without factoring in the impact of the recently opened Willowbank MX track in the Ispwich Motorsports Precinct.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

It's over - there will be NO MOTOCROSS @ ADARE!!

Here’s some great news.

Last week, as we were preparing for a resumption of the final Trial Hearing on the motocross appeal, Drywound Pty Ltd's solicitor filed an application with the court to be taken off the record as its solicitor because he (and the barristers) were owed a considerable amount of money and the developer had not been returning his calls or emails for over a month (this was accompanied by a 63 page affidavit detailing the Drywound's debts to its lawyers and experts - see post here).

Late on Friday Colby Steer (sole Director of Drywound Pty Ltd) sent the parties to the appeal copies of a “letter of demand” that he had sent to the Council for payment of $501,057 which he claimed to have spent on legal and professional costs, arguing that the Council had intially expressed “tremendous support and encouragement” at the initial meeting in 2014, but had been putting difficulties in his way since then.

The tone and content of his letter suggest that he has not adequately understood the nature of the Development Application or Planning and Environment Court Appeal processes.  However, in fairness, it is also quite possibly a factor contributing to his current problems that, as an "outsider" in the Lockyer Valley, he might not have recognised in time that any support, encouragement and assurances he had received from the then Mayor of the LVR Council would not necessarily outlast his untimely demise.

On the morning of Monday 23rd of January Mr Steer was in the Planning and Environment Court (self-represented) when it met to resume the Trial Hearing.  He advised the Judge that he wanted to withdraw from the Appeal and had no intention of pursuing the Trial Hearing.  On hearing this, the Judge dismissed his Appeal against the Council’s decision to refuse the application for a material change of use to allow the establishment of a motocross facility on the land in Adare Road.

It's over.

The Council’s decision to refuse the Development Application stands.

The voices of the 232 objecting submitters to the Development Application have prevailed.

This was always an inappropriate development for the proposed location, and that would have been recognised in the Trail Hearing had it gone ahead.  Drywound's withdrawal has saved the community from yet more unnecessary expense in fighting an appeal that should not have been launched in the first place.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Drywound's Solicitor files an application for leave to withdraw

On Monday 16 January Drywound's solicitor filed an Application in the Planning and Environment Court seeking "leave to withdraw as solicitors on the record for the Appellant".

Which in simple english means that the solicitor submitting the request wants the Court to take his name off the Court records as the solicitor for Drywound Pty Ltd (the company which filed the Development Application for a motocross facility at Adare in the Lockyer Valley, and of which Colby Steer is the Director and sole shareholder).

The Application was accompanied by an Affidavit explaining the circumstances leading up to this situation.

You can download the Solicitor's Application to not be listed as representing Drywound here:

and the Affidavit with the background to the Application here:

Page 16 of the above Affidavit (i.e. the 16th page of the total pdf document, not a page numbered 16) details the unpaid fees to lawyers and experts at the time of preparation of the Affidavit owed by Drywound Pty Ltd (Colby Steer's company).