Last ditch bid for $50 million airpark

Brisbane developer and the owner of Paradise Homes, Bill Finlen, wants to build a $50 million airpark at the Evans Head Aerodrome and hes making one last ditch attempt at convincing Richmond Valley Council to back his plan.

He first submitted his plan for an airpark in 2003, and this year he made another submission showing two different schemes.

Airparks cater for flying enthusiasts who want to live with their planes. People live in a dwelling and park their aircraft in an adjoining or adjacent hangar with taxiway access to an airstrip.

Other facilities could include flight training, fuel and oil sales, a golf course, walking tracks, club houses, short and longer term overnight accommodation, a swimming pool, tennis courts and an aviation museum.

Mr Finlen said he had visited airparks around the world because he wanted to live in one and feels Evans Head is the perfect location.

Im passionate about my aeroplane, he said. I would dearly love to live on an airpark and if I have to develop it myself I would.

He said he doesnt feel Council really considered the idea properly as he never received a single question about any of his proposals.

Its a $50 million dollar project, he said. You would think that would have raised some questions. But I got zilch.

He said he was now going to have a last ditch meeting with Richmond Valley mayor Charlie Cox to try and convince him of the merit of the idea before the aerodrome was developed further and the site became too small to be viable.

They can keep nibbling away at it, but once its gone its gone, he said.

Mr Finlen said an airpark could not only relieve Council of the financial burden of having to maintain the aerodrome, but could generate revenue for Council.

Mr Finlen said airparks were a relatively new concept in Australia but there were around 500 in the United States.

Mayor Charlie Cox said Council was open to the idea and was currently considering future uses for the aerodrome which fitted with its Plan of Management.

Im happy to meet with him, he said. He felt Council didnt really understand what he was saying. Hes saying it has to be of a certain size, otherwise its not viable, and that could be a possible stumbling block.

Meanwhile, plans for a $30 million nursing home on a site within the aerodrome are still proceeding. CEO of the Ballina Ex-Services Home, Paul Morris, said they were tinkering around with the size and design to better accommodate the site and they were hoping to have the development application (DA) lodged within the next few months. He said they had an agreement to buy the site from Council subject to the DA being approved and a price had been set.

Its reasonable price, he said. They are certainly not giving it away.

Mr Finlen said he felt the nursing home was a fait accompli but the airpark plans could be adjusted to accommodate it.

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