Saturday, February 05, 2022

By Joe Barrett

Questions were raised at a specially convened meeting of Laois County Council to decide on the new County Development Plan (CDP) on Tuesday 25 January over what legal implications would there be for councillors if they dezoned lands that had already been approved planning permission by Laois County Council?

At the outset of the meeting cllr PJ Kelly proposed the meeting be postponed until clarity was sought on the issue.

His proposal was seconded by cllr Aisling Moran.

While discussing zoning and dezoning issues in the draft CDP, one of the recommendations of the Council’s Chief Executive John Mulholland was to dezone lands in Killenard that previously had been zoned for residential/housing in the previous Laois CDP (2017-2023) and had also received the council’s full approval to construct housing on.

Cllr Aidan Mullins also asked that the dezoning matter be clarified before a final decision was taken on the zoning issue?

Cllr Moran said: “This person (developer) has invested a lot of time and has spent a lot of money developing his plans for the site.”

I support PJ Kelly,” said cllr Willie Aird. “If there is a judicial enquiry into this, I have no problem standing over our proposal to adjourn. I don’t know this person (developer).”

Cllr Mullins said: “Laois County Council gave him planning permission knowing that the land was going to be dezoned. It’s very unfair and it’s just not right.”

Cllr Aird noted anyone appealing the decision of the council to approve planning permission to the development in Killenard to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) had up until 5pm of the same day of the meeting (Tuesday 25 January) to do so. Adding, “If there are no objections to (ABP) the planning permission stands. What happens then if there are no objections? Can the houses be built?”

He said the council planners granted planning permission and now council management is recommending that the lands be dezoned. He asked: “If that happens are we legally exposed?”

I know of another piece of land that is in the exact same position,” said cllr Catherine Fitzgerald.

Mr Mulholland agreed with councillors and said that it was an unusual situation and he had, “never seen anything like this before.”

Following the adjournment Mr Mulholland said: “I don’t think that there will be any legal implications for councillors.”

Director of Services Angela McEvoy said: “It has gone through the due process.”

There was no vote taken by councillors on whether or not the lands should be dezoned. As such the recommendation by the county’s Chief Executive to do so was adopted into the new Laois County Development Plan 2021-2027.

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