The Daily Examiner; Rodney Stevens | 9th August 2011
SALLY Rogers is delighted the Land and Environment Court has overturned the Clarence Valley Council decision to close down Happy Paws.
The court found Happy Paws was not a commercial operation and it came under agricultural use zoning.
“I can now use the facilities the way they were designed – to house 25-30 dogs,” she said.
The court also overturned the council’s ruling that she needed to submit a development application for works on her property.
The court also awarded Ms Rogers costs, which she said included her legal bills and any work she had done to comply with a DA.
“That includes waste water treatment, extra tree planting and consultants’ fees for water management and noise control,” she said.
Ms Rogers said she doesn’t think the decision will please her neighbours, who complained to the council about the animal refuge.
She said one neighbour had been yelling at her when she let the dogs out around 8.30am.
“They bark a bit in the morning because they’re excited and also around 5pm or 6pm when I put them away,” she said.
“But at night they hardly make a peep.”
The RSPCA has given Happy Paws their tick of approval.
Ms Rogers also has to comply with rules which include that all dogs that go to Happy Paws have to be desexed, microchipped and vet checked before she takes them in.
But she no longer has to register dogs in her name as she had to previously.
Happy Paws will also now have a 16d classification under the animal welfare act.
This will enable Ms Rogers to take dogs from the pound and house them at Happy Paws while she tries to find homes for them.
Clarence Valley Council deputy general manager Des Schroder said the court ruled Ms Rogers didn’t need a development application as she was an agricultural activity.
“The ruling says Happy Paws is more of a charity and not a commercial entity,” he said.
“So in that case she doesn’t need a DA because she is an agricultural activity.
“There are some precedents on this in other council areas.”
Mr Schroder said instances of council being taken to court over development applications were few.
“In the last year we have had two cases in court out of around 1000 DAs we dealt with,” he said yesterday.
He said council would be meeting with its solicitors in the next week to examine what costs MS Rogers can be awarded before her costs application goes before court.
Ms Rogers would still be required to comply with legislation that governs noise on her property.