The report to council said the refusal was based on a lack of information provided to allow adequate assessment, and possible adverse impacts on the amenity of the area.
Chief executive Richard Gorbunow said applicant C&C Enterprises had been advised that existing rights for the site to be used as a sawmill had lapsed, but the company had continued to operate.
He said the Shire would write to the company advising it must cease operating and if it refused, council would consider its legal options.
C&C Enterprises representative Rod Croft said Mr Gorbunow had issued him with verbal approval and he did not intend to stop operating.
He said he had done nothing wrong, and assertions he was operating illegally were damaging his business. He said his suppliers were nervous and a group of people had harassed and threatened one of his truck drivers trying to make a delivery.
Mr Croft said the council had been doing ‘backflips’ and dealt with him unfairly, and while he did not intend to start any legal action himself, he would defend any case brought against him.
Mr Croft also responded to residents’ concerns, voiced in submissions to council, that an operating mill would harm the town’s potential as a tourist destination.
He said he had the first offer of refusal built into his lease with site owner National Trust, meaning that if the Trust decided to sell the site he would buy it.
He said plans were already under way to restore the building, its manager’s hut and single workers’ quarters, which had ‘run to rack and ruin,’ to ensure its attractiveness as a tourist destination for the future.
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