Archive for January, 2016

WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Protect our markets or all community events?

January 31, 2016

YOUR BIG DECISION.

7q4gxC1454244222

I built Farm Direct for the people, so it is for you to choose its future.

Our position at this stage is our Lights-view and Parafield Markets, even our old Gawler site like most markets in the country were approved by local councils/airport authorities, they were assessed as merit use, which means they are an acceptable form of development/event under development law.

So far we have been able to ascertain that most markets, fetes and community events, especially those that are held on any regular basis, are approved in the very same way.

When we moved from the old Parafield site to Salisbury to upgrade facilities, we were made to jump through a few hoops, due our size, this included health and safety, environment, DPRI (Road traffic) Heritage SA, the approval of the development assessment panel, etc etc, and of course we passed.

Competition in the industry backed by an unregistered pop up market on my old site and middle men in the wholesale industry, took the council to court for approving us, using a well funded legal team arguing a technicality, that stalls should be considered Shops, and a group of stalls a shopping centre, they won.

This outcome means our approval for Salisbury was overturned and has to head back to the application process as an event/development which is “Non complying”, this will now be how all developments/events will now be assessed. Our other market at Lights-view and the approvals we have in other locations can also be challenged, as can most markets, fetes and events in Australia.

The process to approve a non-complying applications, is extremely tough, expensive and has no guarantees, full details;  https://www.facebook.com/freshfoodaustralia/posts/1141695339183426:0

This leaves us a community several options of where to go from here.

  1. We take this recent court decision back to the courts as an appeal.
  2. We lobby parliament to change the development act definitions to exclude stalls from being able to be called shops
  3. We go back to the development process for Salisbury as a shopping centre.
  4. We continue to trade and do nothing and refuse to close.
  5. We shut all our markets and give up on the other sites already complied for expansion.

Each of these options have cost factors, Farm Direct is not for profit, some weeks we lose money but on average we make a few hundred dollars after paying costs, advertising, marketing on line, signage ect ect comes out of what’s left, as founder I save anything else, but I assume my two days a week and the many hours on line and handling media, compliance and the defence of our markets, is worth a couple of hundred to me. (I would make 5 to 10 times that if I stayed home.)

This being the case we have very little money, our on-line fundraiser has raised around $3400 and cash donations are being audited for transparency, I assume around $1000.

The biggest cost is closure, because less people will have access to fresh affordable produce and our stall holders, farmer and producers may be forced onto the dole cue, like so many will of this finding is not overturned in one way or another.

Here are the final options;

  1. To appeal the court decision and safe guard all existing and future markets, fetes and events across the country will cost around $4,000 just in filing fees, hopefully less, We believe we have established an excellent legal team pro-bono, but if we were to lose, I would have to personally wear the legal costs. (We have to file the appeal by the 11th of February unless we can get an extension of time)

 

  1. The council could appeal the decision and then our lawyers would be able to join the action and we would have no costs and would not be accountable for legal costs if both teams lost (we feel we would win) Many in the council support this move, but do not believe they have the numbers to get an approval to start the action.

 

  1. My self, the council and several MP’s that are on side, will lobby the government to change the legislation to exclude stalls as being a shop in the definition, you can help with this.

 

  1. If we exclude the idea of saving every stall holder, of which there are thousands all over the country, we can simply go back and start a new application for Salisbury, the process is long and arduous, very expensive and there are no guarantees along the way (however unlike new applications, we have already passed most of the necessary red tape).

 

  1. If we take the path of least resistance, in protecting our markets only, one of the major costs will be hiring a Development Planner to help with the application process; this cost has yet to be factored in, and may make the legal avenue less expensive and the best option for every event in the country. (We would also have to offer a refund on those on line donations that made their donations based on the appeal process only)

 

  1. We could close down and give up on our new locations, this avenue is one I would never support personally, if everything we are trying was to fail, I would opt to trade illegally and face the consequences, most of our stall holders would also support this action.

 

The big problem is money, if we go to the courts, I can’t see it fair that my wife and I would have to cover the costs of a loss, if we go back to the development process, I am not sure we can afford a development planner, as non-complying applications are rarely granted without the best people on board, we have everything already in place.

What we need is a backer, some one that can converse with our legal team, and if they support us, will cover the costs in the event of a loss only, or to raise more awareness and donations, but time is running out.

I am still trying to raise more money, that way we have a safe guard, and when we win, any excess money raised would be donated to those recent fire victims who lost everything and were not insured on an equitable basis.

The on-line funding link ; https://www.gofundme.com/iupy3c

I need your thoughts on where to go, it is your market, without our customers, we are a group of struggling farmers and producers with nowhere to sell our product.

I have tried all the media, Dick Smith, Leon Bynor you name it, even friends I have dealt with for year, with very little success, so it is now up to us

With all of you behind us, working shoulder to shoulder, I believe we will make the right decision and make the best out of this sad situation, our future as a nation at this moment in time is in serious need of a win in the peoples favor, and what better a win than ensuring access to affordable fresh produce for future generations.

 

Mark Aldridge

Links ;

http://www.courts.sa.gov.au/Judgments/Lists/Judgments/Attachments/2429/2016%20SAERDC%201.pdf

https://markaldridge.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/outline-of-argument-markets-v-johnston/

Advertisements

New compliance red tape for stall holders and market/event managers overview

January 25, 2016

I will update this blog as information helps define the issues

This Market issue with the new precedents set by the ERD court are causing division, where there should be unity.

The findings have changed only one thing, a technicality in fact, they have determined a stall to be a shop, in the definitions of the development act.

There are people saying this does not affect them, or this is not an issue, or where the links are, a lot of miss information is undermining our ability to unite and tackle this issue in a timely manner.

Here is a link to the outcome. http://www.courts.sa.gov.au/Judgments/Pages/ERD-Judgments.aspx

The next link is to my initial argument to the ERD court

https://markaldridge.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/outline-of-argument-markets-v-johnston/

Stalls, Markets and fetes were considered merit use, so all approvals of present and past events like these were approved by councils and development panels as “Merit applications” they were all supported by development law.

The findings in the ERD court have now defined stalls as “Shops” and a group of stalls as a “shopping centre” if they are set up to display or retail goods of any kind.

This finding can affect development approvals Australia wide.

Shops and shopping centres are NOT Merit use in most locations present markets and community events are held. They are now considered “Non Complying” so neither envisaged nor encouraged.

Here is a link to how non complying applications are handled;

https://markaldridge.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/what-is-the-process-for-approvals-of-a-none-complying-development-stalls/

I have spoken with lawyers, development experts, MP’s and interested parties, so we are still trying to work out the implications for every small to large community event.

At this stage we all have a few options, many events and markets like mine, are currently approved, but none would have gone through that process as a shopping centre, so most of us are at risk wither now or into the future, future applications under these findings will be in a heap of trouble.

The first option is to take the finding to court and appeal it, to make a stall a stall again and of merit to the community, but only myself or the council can make that application to the full bench of the Supreme Court, and we only have 21 days from the 21st of January.

https://www.gofundme.com/iupy3c  is the link to help fund a court challenge

The second option is to lobby government to amend the definitions, I have been at that for some time, well before these findings, Mark Parnell from the greens put up an amendment and will again at the next sitting of parliament, last time Labor and Liberal did not support the amendment.

The third option for us all is to comply and when councils receive a complaint, each of us will have re-apply for approvals as “non complying” unless of course you are situated in an area zoned retail, but change of use might still get you.

There are sections in the development act to deal with trifling matters, which may protect single fund raising stalls, but that is a guess at this stage, the courts and development panels will have to deal with that.

There also may be massive issues with event insurance and stall holder insurance costs, again, too early to tell.

My suggestion is to continue to lobby parliament, and to lodge an appeal to ensure common-sense has the best chance.

I meet with the council on Friday, and I believe Salisbury council and several others are to lobby parliament through the minister to amend the definitions in the act.

These are the facts so far.

Mark Aldridge

What is the process for approvals of a “None complying development” “Stalls”

January 24, 2016

What is Non-Complying development?

Stalls now must comply as shops, a group of shops as a shopping centre, so are now non complying developments, where they were merit use, so what is involved to hold a market, fete or fundraising stall?

Non-Complying developments are listed in the Development Plan and are land uses which are NOT envisaged or encouraged within a particular area

The lodgement of a Non-Complying application incurs a number of expensive fees, and sometimes years of debate and massed of red tape, and there are no guarantees at any stage nor is there any right of appeal.

The assessment process for a Non-Complying development application involves a number of steps.

The first step when a Non-Complying application is made is for the Council staff to undertake a preliminary assessment. From this, they will decide to either refuse the application or proceed with a full assessment.

If the application is refused at this time the applicant has no right of appeal against the decision

If Council agrees to proceed with full assessment of the application a report called a Statement of Effect is required to be submitted. This must be prepared by a qualified planner.

Qualified Planners can be very expensive and cannot always offer their service in a timely manner.

The second step, if the Council decides to proceed with the application, is for the Council planner to undertake a full assessment of the development. After Council planners have assessed the application they will write a report recommending either approval or refusal of the application to the Council Development Assessment Panel.

Once again there is no appeal process.

The third step is for the application, staff recommendation and report to go to a Council Development Assessment Panel meeting, where a decision will be made to support or refuse the application. Should Council refuse the development, the applicant has no right to appeal the decision

If Council supports the application then the Development Assessment Commission, the state planning authority, must also make a decision on the development

The forth step is for the Development Assessment Commission to assess the application. If the Development Assessment Commission does not support the application it will be refused. If the application is refused, the applicant has no right of appeal.

If the Development Assessment Commission approves the application, a Decision Notification Form will be sent to the applicant informing them of the approval and any conditions placed upon the development.

Imagine all this for a fete, fundraiser of garage sale.

Mark Aldridge