THE City of Melville has voted to extend the sunset date for the proposed wave park’s ground lease in Alfred Cove.
After failing to move the Melville Bowling Club by the original date of October 1, the new date for satisfying the lease conditions has been pushed out more than 12 months to February 28, 2020.
At last night’s special council meeting, councillors Katy Mair, Nicholas Pazolli, Steve Kepert, Karen Wheatland and June Barton left the chambers following claims that councillors could be sued if they voted against extending the lease.
Remaining councillors made the decision behind closed doors following a deputation from representatives from the Swan Foreshore Protection Association, who tried to provide some insight into the legal issues.
The ground lease between the City and wave park proponents URBNSURF was signed in April 2017.
URBNSURF founder and executive chairman Andrew Ross said he was pleased with the City’s decision.
City acting chief executive Marten Tieleman said both parties would need to satisfy their obligations by the new date.
“We could have taken action to remove the bowls club from the site because they are on a month to month lease but we weren’t going to do that,” he said.
“The agreement is subject to delays in approvals because we are not the approving authority, that is the WA Planning Commission, so if there are any unforeseen delays in that process outside of our control then the deed of amendment has provision to be extended further.”
Mr Tieleman said the legal issues were complicated, which was why councillors were briefed by lawyers behind closed doors in September.
“We took legal advice around the agreement to make the council comfortable about the situation that we are in,” he said.
“If you don’t extend the lease then you could potentially find yourself in a situation that there is a possibility that you may be sued personally.
“If you got out there and maliciously vote against it because you don’t agree with the wave park, that argument happened a couple of years ago when they signed the lease. There wouldn’t have been any lease if the majority said no.
“There is a lease so you can’t deal with a clean slate, if you have a legal document so that’s what we were trying to get clarity on.”
Swan Foreshore Protection Association chairman Clive Ross said it was not surprising that the five councillors declared a financial interest and the remaining councillors and Mayor did not.
He said the community was considering if breaches may have been committed and whether there was any appropriate course of action available.
Melville Bowling Club president Tim Smith said the council’s decision changed nothing and they would continue to dig in their heels.