Firm accuses council of misleading rezoning vote

AN offshore company under investigation by the Flood Tribunal accused Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council in 1998 of misleading its own councillors about a rezoning motion on lands it owned.

Jackson Way Properties, which owns around 106 acres of land in Carrickmines in south Dublin, also threatened the local authority with legal action after its efforts to have the land rezoned were narrowly defeated.

The tribunal is currently investigating allegations by the political lobbyist, Frank Dunlop, that he was given £25,000 by Jackson Way to bribe politicians.

The inquiry heard yesterday that a motion proposed to the council in January 1998 by Cllr Liam Cosgrave (FG) and Cllr Tony Fox (FF) to rezone part of the Jackson Way lands from agricultural to industrial use was defeated 16-10.

Cllr Cosgrave and Cllr Fox are two of nine councillors identified by Mr Dunlop as people who were allegedly paid money by Jackson Way in return for their votes to rezone the land.

A month later, Jackson Way complained to the council that its officials had misled councillors about the development potential of the property in a report read out just before the vote took place.

The company also threatened the local authority with a High Court action unless it rectified the situation.

Jackson Way’s solicitor, Stephen Miley, said a briefing paper about the proposal to rezone the company’s lands which was presented to councillors was “quite misleading”. He disagreed with the council’s position that the lands were unsuitable for development because they rose rapidly in height south of the proposed southeast motorway whose route divided the site.

Contrary to the council’s view, Mr Miley also claimed that all necessary services including water facilities were available for the site. Mr Miley said that council engineers had acknowledged directly to Jackson Way’s representatives that the lands could be serviced with water from a number of different sources.

He restated the company’s belief that the councillors would have voted in favour of the rezoning if they had not been misled by council officials.

“It is only because the wrong information was before them that the motion was defeated,” said Mr Miley.

He warned the council that Jackson Way would seek a judicial review in the High Court to have the decision quashed and the council meeting reconvened to vote on the issue again. However, the council replied that it was satisfied that its decision on the Jackson Way lands was valid. Ultimately, no judicial review was sought by the company.

In other evidence, the council’s senior planner, Richard Cremins disputed claims made by Jackson Way in a rezoning proposal in August 1997 that a shortage of industrial zoned land, which had been predicted in 1990, had become “an acute reality”.

The tribunal heard that council officials had recommended against accepting proposals to rezone the Jackson Way land on several occasions in the late 1990s because of the lack of water, poor access and the development of the south-east motorway.

Mr Cremins said the council was aware that land already zoned industrial was not actually providing any jobs.

The tribunal heard that there was already a sufficient supply of residential zoned land within Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown in 1998 to cater for housing demand for the next decade. Mr Cremins said that most of land zoned both residential and industrial in the council area was “still mostly unbuilt on”.

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