The City of Casey will investigate what urgent further steps it can take to address the safety and amenity issues at the Hampton Park Food Market.
At a Council Meeting on Tuesday 5 February, Councillors supported an item of urgent business for Council to act to address concerns at the site within the limitations of Councils' authority, as well as investigate the ability to introduce or amend a Local Law to strengthen Council’s power to address similar issues in the future.
Given the limitations this issue has highlighted, Council also resolved to call on the State Government, requesting better controls within the Local Government Act to further empower Councils to deal with derelict commercial (and residential) properties.
Ward Councillors Wayne Smith and Damien Rosario expressed their concerns over the derelict building and said this scenario highlighted an issue in relation to Local Government’s limited jurisdiction over privately owned properties, and its ability to compel owners to take action.
“Council is acutely aware of the concerns raised in relation to the food market and our officers are currently working hard to investigate what methods Council can take to help rectify the situation,” Cr Smith said.
Cr Rosario added that Council will ensure it undertakes whatever action it can within the current limitations of Council’s authority.
“We will aim to address the amenity and safety concerns raised in relation to the building in any way we can and understand the affect that this eye-sore is having on the Hampton Park and wider Casey community.”
City of Casey Mayor Cr Amanda Stapledon said she was disappointed to see the state of this building and empathised with residents and neighbouring businesses.
Cr Stapledon added that as part of the item of urgent business, Council will write to the Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Adam Somyurek, about issues of abandonment and dereliction.
“Council will ask to increase its level of authority in relation to these issues, and request that Local Governments be able to issue warnings and harsher penalties to recalcitrant owners.
“Should owners fail to do so, Council has asked that it be entitled to issue penalties in keeping with the community risk that these properties pose, temporarily confiscate the properties and undertake the remedial work necessary.
“Should re-offending occur, we’ve asked that Council can undertake further remedial works, with the penalties to double on each occasion to the same property.”
A report will come back to Council on 19 February with details on the action undertaken to address the issues at the Hampton Park Food Market.
Council’s only legal avenue to act against the owner of this commercial premises is under Section 17 of the Local Law for unsightly premises. The maximum penalty that can be applied on successful prosecution is $2,000. In addition, if the owner does not adhere to a Notice to Comply, Council will then have to undertake the safety and clean-up works with no certainty of the costs being recuperated from the owner.