Proposed local law changes you need to know

COUNCIL LOCAL LAWS CHANGES

A sweeping review of this region's Local Laws, which impact our daily lives and where we all live, has recommended major changes.

The review covers everything from street parking, pets, driveways and illegal dumping to alcohol on public land, back yards, motorbikes, shopping trolleys and mowing verges.

Results from the community consultation with Moreton Bay Regional Council’s proposed responses to major questions. The review process will be finished by early in 2023.

Here is a guide to the main issues, concerns, community feedback and how council’s proposed changes may affect you.

Fires in backyards

Council plans to amend Local Laws to allow “recreational backyard fires on residential and rural properties, subject to guidelines, by restricting material burned and distances from buildings and structures.

Fires are currently only allowed if contained in prepared barbecue or cooking set-ups.

Fires on properties larger than 3000sqm are permissible if health and safety conditions are met.

Council asked the community if it should allow backyard fires in braziers and/or firepits? Of 1220 respondents, 88 per cent said yes, 10 per cent said no.

Most community respondents said there needed to be conditions attached, such as ensuring smoke is contained.

Animal numbers

Under the review, there would be a revision of the Local Law caps on animals, ranging from cats and dogs to peacocks, horses and ponies.

Proposals include increasing the number of cats and dogs on properties under 300sqm from one to two and in multi-unit complexes with approval.

Residents in caravan parks and removeable homes would be permitted to keep one cat or dog with approval from the park owner or body corporate.

Horses, ponies, donkeys, cows, etc, would be permitted on rural residential lots of a minimum 6000sqm. For pigs the minimum property size would be halved to 20,000sqm.

Council asked if it should continue to cap the maximum number of animals on a property? Of 1591 responses, 71 per cent said yes, 27 per cent no.

However, 72 per cent believe Council should be able to allow more animals in exceptional or compassionate circumstances.

Community comments included:

“For those of us with two existing pets, buying in Moreton Bay Region becomes difficult when the choice is between keeping a second family pet or not.”

“All my pets are rescues and I am a responsible pet owner, but would like to be able to rescue more.”

Illegal dumping and littering

Moreton Bay Regional Council plans to strengthen its investigation and prosecution processes for littering and illegal dumping.

Littering would be removed from the Local Laws as it is better regulated under State legislation.

It follows community concern over illegal dumping in rural areas, the need for better prosecution and resources to investigate and obtain sufficient evidence.

Community comments included:

“Council should develop a specialised prosecution unit that has teeth and new powers to investigate and commence proceedings against offenders. There needs to be a clear message illegal dumping will not be tolerated.”

“Spend some money on cameras and get the proof. Start Council pick-ups again and the problem will be much less.”

“Make regulations around transfer stations and landfill facilities less burdensome so people don’t find it more convenient to dump waste illegally.”

Council asked the community if it should be able to fine someone for illegal dumping if Council formed the reasonable belief they did it? Of 685 respondents, 87 per cent said yes.

Keeping dogs in koala areas

Under the review, all dog owners, regardless of whether they live in a koala habitat area, would have to tether or contain their pet if they know a koala is on their land.

This expands Council’s Local Law from the obligation of just those living in State Government mapped koala areas.

There would also be more education on responsible pet ownership.

It follows attacks on koalas by domestic dogs, calls for dogs to be banned from designated koala areas or restrained at night and kept in a run with escape poles for koalas.

Rescue groups supported additional regulations while also raising concerns over the mapping of koala areas and greater enforcement by Council.

Council asked the community if residents who own dogs in koala areas be required to take extra steps to prevent their dogs attacking koalas?” Of 1027 responses, 72 per cent said yes.

Community comments included:

“If dogs are kept outside at night, owners should be required to install special fencing to exclude koalas from their yard.”

“Dog owners are all responsible for making sure their dogs do not attack koalas, doesn’t matter where you live.”

“The idea of protecting local wildlife is a good idea, however the council should be the one fronting the cost rather than the property owner.”

Two-up two-down parking

Council plans to introduce a policy to help guide decision-making around two-up two-down parking.

The State Government sets rules on parking and using a road verge is not allowed unless there is a sign permitting it.

Council currently has no signs allowing two-up two down parking.

However, during the review there were concerns from residents in narrow streets where cars are lawfully parked, but making travel difficult for other users.

Community comments included: “Many of our streets are too narrow to have cars parked on the road.”

“It is common sense to park with two wheels on a pavement in narrow streets. Keeping a road clear should supersede the rights of the grass to grow on the pavement.”

“Keeping the road clear should supersede the rights of the grass to grow on the pavement.”

"Ratepayers do not want to be paying for damaged infrastructure or damage to private property or sued for an increase in trips/falls/injuries.”

Council asked the community: Should it allow cars to park two-wheels-up on a road verge in narrow streets?” On 973 responses, 85 per cent said yes, 14 per cent no.

Council’s guide to allowing two-up two-down parking would include the circumstances around the request, risk to underground infrastructure, pedestrians and maintenance.

Verge mowing

Council plans to introduce a “direction notice power” to compel a small number of residents, who do not mow their verge, to do so.

This would be supported by a policy guide for officers on when the power should be used, such as pedestrians being unable to walk through a verge.

Personal circumstances for each would be considered.

There are currently no Local Laws requiring residents to mow the verge, between their boundary and the road, outside their property.

However, it is “accepted practice” according to Council’s website, for owners to maintain footpaths including mowing.

Concerns were raised by residents about overgrown verges forcing pedestrians to walk on roads. Others said Council should maintain Council land.

Community comments included: “Some are especially bad, especially when pushing a pram. It can be hazardous.”

“Unfortunately, there are people with no pride in their property.”

“Some properties like mine have 1.3km of ‘verge’. Plus, untidy is very subjective.”

"Keep out of people’s front yards, back yards, pools, etc. They are not your property or domain to decide whether they are ‘tidy’ or not. It’s entirely subjective as to what constitutes ‘unsightly.’”

Fireworks

Under the review proposals, Council would only regulate fireworks at public events and festivals.

The Council CEO would also no longer have power to allow fireworks at private events on public land, such as weddings.

Instead, State legislation would cover how fireworks events are carried out and private events on private property.

It follows concern about the impact of fireworks on domestic animals and wildlife.

Council asked the community should fireworks be permitted at approved public or private events if carried out by licensed professionals? Of 670 respondents, 70 per cent said yes.

Among the community comments was: “Time to move on to safer alternatives such as lazer shows or drone displays”.

Dayboro and Pine Rivers Shows said they wanted fireworks to continue if controlled and following State law.

Events and festivals

Following the Local Laws Review, Moreton Bay Regional Council plans to distinguish between low and high-risk events to make the approval process easier.

Many stakeholders said the current approval process was “too onerous for smaller, lower-impacted events”, saying requirements should match their “size, scale and impacts”.

Council asked the community if certain events should go ahead without a formal application, assessment and approval process?

Of 331 surveyed, 55 per cent said no, 37 per cent said yes.

A specialist independent event risk assessor is now preparing a ‘calculator’ to help rate the risks.

Keeping roosters

Keeping roosters has been a hot topic in the Local Laws review with some saying said the cap in numbers was restrictive, others that roosters were a nuisance.

Council asked the community if roosters should be kept on rural residential properties?

Of 1034 responses, 68 per cent said yes, but there was a mixed response to numbers - many suggested one, others an animal-to-land ratio.

Under the review, Council proposes a minimum property size of 6000sqm with approval to keep a rooster and land ratio of one to properties of 20,000sqm and over without approval.

There would also be minimum standards to mitigate noise nuisance.

Community comments included:

“Making it easier to keep roosters will reduce the numbers being dumped and abandoned in local bush land.”

“I don’t think it is realistic for residential properties to have roosters, but do think there needs to be support given to residents to help them rehome roosters.”

Parking large vehicles

State Government sets rules about parking, with caravans, boats and trailers (large vehicles) permitted for long periods of time.

However, Council plans to amend Local Laws to restrict parking large vehicles on roads long-term – except for permitted purposes.

Regulating the purpose is seen as more beneficial. For example, packing a caravan for a trip or parking a trailer if it is used for daily work.

This follows concern over long-term parking obstructing traffic, impeding sight, loss of street parking, and being a hazard for cyclists and pedestrians.

Council asked the community: Should large vehicles be permitted to park on residential streets? Of 732 responses, 66 per cent said no, 31 per cent yes.

Of those who thought they should be able to park on streets, 37 per cent said there should be a time limit. Most suggested one week. 58 per cent said no time limit.

Community comments included: “Too often boats and caravans block smaller streets. Debris gets caught under them and it becomes unsightly.”

“Unsightly, dangerous and limits traffic safely passing. Should be banned absolutely.”

“As registrations are paid by all vehicles, then they have equal rights to roads.”

"They need to remain registered and insured and apply all road parking rules to not block vision around corners, etc. They should be able to park on the nature strip where they are not blocking a foot path.”

Motorbikes

Riding motorbikes on public and private land is regulated by the State Government with police having power to deal with noise complaints.

Council laws generally prohibit the riding of 'vehicles' on public land it owns or controls.

However, noise from motorbikes being ridden in private backyards on rural properties was a concern for community members in the review.

Some said motorbikes were a nuisance, created dust and there were safety concerns.

Council asked the community if riding motorbikes should be allowed on private (rural residential) properties?” Of 851 responses, 74 per cent were in favour.

There were community suggestions to limit lot sizes, motorbike engines and times.

Community comments included: "This is why people buy larger properties."

"No safer place for young ones to learn to ride than their own backyard where they are familiar with the environment and surroundings.”

"I live on a rural property and arrogant and self centred, irresponsible neighbours ride their motorbikes and quads with no respect for their neighbours.”

"We not only have the property owners riding loops around the area but also city people coming out to ride around. Some weekends it sounds like a racetrack for hours on end."

Riding motorbikes on council owned or controlled land will remain prohibited, but private land (rural backyards) will be allowed.

Shopping trolleys

Retailers with more than a designated number of shopping trolleys would have to install wheel locks to prevent trolley dumping, under proposed new Local Laws.

It follows concerns from residents and the result of Council patrols in a six-month period which impounded 584 shopping trolleys on council land.

Under Council laws, a shopper must return the trolley and the owner take “all reasonable precautions” to keep trolleys on the precinct.

But, the term is not defined in the Local Laws and Moreton Bay region does not have a containment system, unlike other councils which have reported a huge fall in dumped trolleys.

Council asked the community if it should have power to direct supermarkets to put wheel-lock mechanisms on trolleys? Of 451 responses, 58 per cent said yes, 36 per cent no.

Community comments included: “This requirement should be dependent on the size of the supermarket, number of trolleys and number of dumping incidents.”

“The cost to supermarkets is high enough. This will be passed on to the consumer.”

“The owner of the trolley should be held responsible for how it is used.”

Alcohol on public land

Under State law drinking alcohol in a public place is an offence, but not if an area is a “designated public place”.

Moreton Bay Region currently has no "designated public places" therefore drinking alcohol on public land in this region is an offence.

But under the review, council would consider designating public areas, such as parks, where alcohol could be drunk for such as barbecues and picnics, between certain times.

Locations would be subject to further consultation in council, with stakeholders, communities and on risk assessments.

However, concerns were raised in the community consultation over a possible spike in anti-social behaviour and council being seen to encourage drinking.

Council asked: Should the consumption of alcohol on all public land remain prohibited? Of 772 replies, 61 per cent wanted the restriction lifted, 37 per cent did not.

Community comments included: “We need a BYO allowed park somewhere in Moreton Bay Region, so sick of going to New Farm all the time. Too far away.”

“If someone becomes drunk and disorderly, we already have laws to deal with that. Don't punish all for the badly behaved few.”

“Consumption in public places should only be permitted at approved events with appropriate crowd control. It should not be an open invitation.”

"Surely you can go to the park without having to drink and these people drive home putting us all at risk and setting a very bad example for their own kids! Definitely NO.”

Support animals

Following the review, Council plans to change the Local Laws to give it “discretion” to allow the keeping of animals in “exceptional or compassionate circumstances”.

The Local Laws do not currently provide this but Council has feedback supporting greater flexibility.

Of 959 survey responses, 68 per cent said Council should “allow a person to keep an animal in circumstances where they ordinarily couldn’t”, if it is medically certified to help “alleviate a medical condition”.

Unsightly allotments

There were concerns Council had “inadequate provision” for dealing with “unsightly pools” (stagnant or green) from neighbouring properties.

Council asked if it should have the power to direct a resident to clean their unsightly pool or tidy up a backyard? Of 682 responses, 73 per cent were in favour.

Comments included: “Certainly the power to order a pool be cleaned to prevent water borne issues, but your idea of a clean backyard could be very difficult to mine.”

“Green swimming pools are a health hazard and should be rectified.”

Council will start regulating unslightly pools for “amenity (not just health) reasons”.

Following the review it would also use State laws to regulate noise (from such as pool pumps) and overgrown allotments.

Advertising signs

Council is looking to update and simplify its Local Laws, drawn up a decade ago, for signs.

There are currently 24 types of self-assessable signs, 25 types of licensable signs and four types of exempt signs.

Self-assessable signs under Council’s Local Law can be subject to more than 30 conditions and requirements.

Asked if Council should be easing or imposing more restrictions on temporary signs, for such as garage sale and real estate of 451 replies, 37 per cent wanted more, 35 per cent less.

As a result, council plans categories of Self-Assessable Signs, Licensable Signs and Permanent Public Land Signs.

Self-Assessable Signs, for such as garage sales, would have no application process, if conditions were met.

Licensable signs would have an application process for such as traffic and visual impacts. Permanent Public Land signs would be handled outside the Local Laws.

Community comments included: “There are way too many signs in the region which is dangerous and has adverse environmental and visual amenity impacts.”

“Temporary event signage, spirts signs, etc should be able to be self-assessable and have fewer restrictions.”

Bush camping

Council is to review bush camping or basic camping at a planning level and if changes are made to the Planning Scheme, would consider Local Laws to regulate bush camping facilities.

Some residents in the region are allowing camping on private properties for a fee, with the online platform Hipcamp carrying listings in this region and beyond.

When asked by Council, the majority (73 per cent) of community respondents said residents should be able to let people camp on their land for a fee.

Businesses on public land

Red tape would be removed from Local Laws, following the review, to streamline the approval process to those wishing to conduct business on public land, such as parks and foreshores.

Some could be self assessable and Council would have greater flexibility within its Local Laws over criteria and permits.

However, the main principal would be businesses on public land must have a community benefit.

Of 687 community responses, 68 per cent backed the move for Council to make it easier for temporary businesses to operate on public land.

Community comments included: “Small businesses need less red tape to operate.”

“The red tape is there to protect public safety and hygiene and needs to be maintained.”

Canal and sea walls

These are not under the Local Laws and there is uncertainty over who is responsible for maintenance and repairs.

Of 701 community responses, 52 per cent said land holders should pay, 41 per cent that Council should pay.

Some said Council should not have to pay for something which benefits a specific property. Others that seawalls protect the coastline.

Council plans to introduce Local Laws so the landowner who benefits from a canal revetment wall or seawall should maintain the wall.

Dangerous activities

Council proposes keeping a ban on activities such as drone flying and golf which may harm those on public land but allow them in designated areas

This would be pending risk assessments and conditions.

The move was supported by 82 per cent of community respondents, after 76 per cent were opposed to allowing all recreational activities in public parks.

Community comments included: “Allowing set areas for certain recreational activities, such as an open area near the Pine River for drone flying.”

“Golf is extremely dangerous. Golf driving ranges are there for this purpose.”

Driveway crossovers

There are currently no “enforceable obligations” in the Local Laws for property owners to maintain the driveway outside their private lot, connecting to the road.

Council’s position is property owners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the driveway crossovers.

Under the review, Local Laws would confirm this and give Council “direction notice” power, as a last resort, to require maintenance by property owners.

Of those surveyed, 51 per cent were in favour of bringing “unsafe or unsightly driveway crossovers to a certain standard.” 44 per cent were against.

Community comments included:

"This should only happen if it is unsafe. Who determines what is unsightly? Safety should be the key issue here.”

“Depending on how bad the access/crossover is, it should be something Council needs to come to an agreement on with the property owner. It might need to on a case-by-case basis.”

"Rates can be lifted to accommodate council doing this on their behalf. I don't think it should be a demand. I think it needs to be flexible and they should provide sufficient time to save.”

Temporary homes

Council would amend the Local Laws to allow temporary homes on wheels (caravans) on another owner's property for four weeks a year without approval.

Applications could also be made to live in a temporary home on wheels for longer under “compassionate circumstances”.

This is currently permissible only when building or renovating a home or by invitation for four days.

Additional Local Laws:

  • Council has no plans to change rules on smoking in public places and would continue using State regulations, but lobby to change State law to include areas such as sports fields.
  • Council would not change its Local Law on the slaughter of animals, kept under Local Laws on blocks more than 3000sqm, for consumption by occupiers of the home.
  • There would be no Local Law, at this stage, covering short-term letting of properties on such as Airbnb. This region has around 670 registered, but the matter may be revisited.
  • Busking is not regulated by council, but under the review it would be self assessable and certain criteria, including being in a designated area covered by Council policy.
  • There are plans to change Local Laws for Council to designate Council-controlled land for camping, with conditions and a permit scheme.

To read the full report, please click here

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