Question raised over Council’s levy scheme

Kildare County Councillors have questioned the manner in which a relatively new development scheme has been applied to agriculture, writes Henry Bauress.

Kildare County Councillors have questioned the manner in which a relatively new development scheme has been applied to agriculture, writes Henry Bauress.

The Council’s planning review committee questioned the minutes of the 7 September 2011 meeting of the Council, in particular, the interpretation development contributions for agricultural, horticultural and equine developments.

The committee said it wanted to clarify the minutes to read that in agricultural and horticultural projects, the first 600 sqm of developments consisting of sheds, stores and other build structures shall be exempt from development contributions. After that a rate of €5 per square metre would apply.

But councillors say a charge of €38 per square metre was being applied as part of the scheme.

Cllr. Ivan Keatley told the25 June meeting of the Council that there had been unanimous agreement on that but “something was lost in translation” in the way the levies would be applied.

The agreed rates were not being applied, he said, and Kildare has much higher contribution charges than neighbouring counties. “We are seriously offside,” he said, seeking a review of the new scheme agreed last September.

Cllr. Brendan Weld agreed arguing that “in the hustle and bustle it is possible a human error was made.”

Cllr. Mark Wall said he have a “very very clear recollection” the levy would apply to all three categories, agriculture, equine and horse industry.

Cllr. Seamus Langan said he thought a mistake was made as the contribution for a shed catering for 150 cows was €75,000.

However, whatever errors have been made, if any, Director of Services, John Lahart, said there would have to be a serious reasons for opening or reviewing the scheme. “We cannot do it on the basis we did not like what we passed six months ago. There would have to be sufficient legal reason,” he said.

Mr. Lahart said he would like to get a legal view.

Cllr. Keatley said there were a number of developers seeking permission and their projects would keep some construction people in business.

Cllr. Keatley said they were not going to collect contributions under the scheme the way it is now, in any event.

County Manager, Michael Malone, in response to some comments, said there was no intention to mislead councillors. But, he argued, they adopted a scheme and it was now a legal issue.

Mr. Malone said he would give members sight of the legal opinion.

The motion was deferred for that.

- Henry Bauress