A PROPOSAL to take action on derelict sites in Lake Vale, Kilminchy by Cllr Alan Hand has been criticised as “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted”.
The motion recently proposed by Cllr Hand in a Portlaoise Town Council meeting referred to five unfinished sites in the estate, including an illegally built construction area now used for dumping.
Resident John Cowhig says this is an old issue that he and Laois County Council have been dealing with for the past two years.
“Since Cllr Hand lives in Kilminchy was he not aware of these issues until now? I am not aware of any owners/residents meeting which might have been arranged by any councillor associated with these problems. It would appear as though the horse has well and truly bolted, on action required from Laois County Council on the derelict sites. What was this motion now going to achieve and who is the councillor acting for?” Mr Cowhig queried in a letter to the Leinster Express.
Mr Cowhig, a member of Kilminchy Homeowners Committee, had reported the illegal construction site and dumping to Laois County Council several times over the past year, and last October to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Laois County Council have now granted planning permission for the construction site to be replaced with a playground, and have closed their planning enforcement file regarding the site.
However Mr Cowhig does not believe a playground will be built. There is no playground for children in the estate.
“Homeowners, who would have to foot the bill, were never consulted by the management company in applying for planning permission. A playground needs to be built, but where is up for discussion,” he says.
Cllr Hand in reply defended his recent call for action.
“I only became a member of Laois County Council in March last year, and I have to represent the whole town and be impartial. I have been on to the environment section about the dumping over the past year. It is happening on an ongoing basis. The reason I raised the issue was because I was contacted by some residents, and when I had a look at the sites, they are quite bad,” he said.
He welcomed the work Mr Cowhig has done.
“He has been very proactive in the area, it is very commendable. Having another set of eyes and ears adding to what’s been done is no harm, many hands make light work. Now that I have raised the motion, the council must take notice and act on the issue,” he said.
Kilminchy, Portlaoise is the largest estate in Laois, with over 700 home owners, built about 14 years ago.
Because of its large size, one of the planning conditions was that home owners would become members of a management company, paying €200 a year for upkeep such as landscaping. However controversy has grown over the lack of consulation and financial openness to members by the three directors. One of them, Declan Culliton, resigned last August just before the AGM, which has not yet been rescheduled, leaving two directors for the estate, resident Dermot Lee and the original developer, Jim McDonald who does not live in Kilminchy.