Council 'blocking' resolution to bottle store site saga
The manager of the city's Big Barrel outlets claims the Palmerston North City Council could save ratepayers' money if it resolved the Cloverlea roundabout bottle store saga out of the High Court.
Big Barrel managing director Baldeep Dhillon raised the ire of councillors and Cloverlea residents last week when he bought the lease to a bottle store across the road from the Tremaine Ave and Botanical Rd site, where he originally planned to open a Big Barrel.
His plan to open a bottle store on the old BP site is being challenged by the council in the High Court, so Mr Dhillon instead opened a store across the road as an interim measure.
He planned to close the current store, located at the Cloverlea Tavern site, if he got approval to build in the BP site, which is owned by Big Barrel.
Mr Dhillon said he was being blocked by the council from resolving the dispute, with his calls directed to lawyers.
He said he had drafted a proposal, including a suggestion of earlier closing hours for his stores, to reduce liquor abuse in the community.
But all attempts at communication have been futile since the council announced it would take him to the High Court in April, Mr Dhillon said.
"I purchased that site so I have to do something with it, but the other bottle store will close when I open the new one. It doesn't make sense to continue with this waste of money High Court challenge.
"I do a lot of work for the community and charity and the council's and my money is going into this action when it could be going into something worthwhile."
The councillor who began the action against Big Barrel's liquor licence, Tangi Utikere, said Mr Dhillon was not able to simply ring up and negotiate now a legal process was in place.
"It sounds like he is getting frustrated with what is just us going through the process.
"He's just hellbent on opening up and not allowing legal process to take its course."
There was no limit set on the amount of ratepayer money that could be used in the legal challenge. Estimates suggested it would cost about $40,000.
Mr Dhillon needed to stop pretending he was interested in doing good for the community, Cr Utikere said.
"The best thing he could do is shut up shop now and not proceed with opening another shop on that corner in future, but he won't."
The High Court challenge is set down for November.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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