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23 February, 2022

Taxis forced to move from suburban block

MAREEBA’s only taxi service will have to move its operations from a suburban street after Mareeba Shire Council rejected an application to operate from the residential block.

By Robyn Holmes

Photo | Dreamstime

Bruno’s Taxi Service had been unlawfully operating out of a Sunrise Close property since July 2020 and following complaints from nearby residents, Mareeba Shire Council issued the owner a Show Cause notice in November 2021. 

The matter ended up in the Mareeba Magistrates Court which ruled in council’s favour, ordering operations at the unlawful transport depot to cease by 26 November 2021 and that all taxis, vehicles and parts of vehicles be removed from the site by 12 December 2021. 

Owner Bruno Di Maggio then applied for a development permit to allow him to lawfully operate the taxi depot from the site, however after receiving submissions from a number of nearby residents, council refused his application last week. 

The proposal was for seven taxis to be stored at the property when they were not in use, staff ’s personal vehicles while on shift, and as an interchange facility for drivers and vehicles. 

But residents were damning in their submissions, outlining a number of issues they say greatly affects the amenity of the neighbourhood such as flood and security lights, headlights from taxis or staff entering and exiting the property, noise, and activity at all hours. 

“The flood lights that are on the shed provide quite a lot of light pollution to the area. These lights easily light up our house to the point of me being able to move around the house and respond to my child during the night without even turning on any internal lights,” one resident wrote. 

A council report stated that the hours of operation (from 4.30am to 9pm) were “completely incompatible” with surrounding residential uses – a situation supported by residents who objected to the proposal. 

“The taxis have been running from Lot 8 Sunrise Close for more than a year now and during this time, they come and go multiple times during the day and night. It's not usual for the taxis (and driver's personal cars) to be entering and exiting the block any time during the night - though most commonly at around 10pm-2am,” one submission stated. 

“Additionally, staff conversations, taxi radios/2-ways, car doors and Sunday cleaning crews, including vacuum cleaners, are all audible at neighbouring residences.” 

Many commented on the mechanical noise from the vehicles themselves, with some saying they often heard “squealing brakes, worn-out bearings, damaged or faulty belts and general squeaking and grinding of panels and hinges”. 

Some were also concerned about the general state of the block, describing it as “appalling”. 

“The style of fencing …. used along the sides of the property is well below the standard of the neighbourhood. These fences are constructed of rusted reclaimed iron. The panels are old, falling apart and most of them have been painted a vile pink colour that can be clearly seen from our home.” 

Council also took into consideration traffic movements associated with the operation of the depot. 

“The intersection of Blacks Road and the Mulligan Highway is not constructed to standard and the development will increase traffic down Blacks Road, thus making this intersection even more dangerous,” the report stated. 

“The local road network servicing the development site is not of a reasonable standard, particularly Blacks Road. The proposed development will increase traffic along these roads which will affect road safety. 

“The proposed development will introduce commercial and other nonlocal traffic to a quiet no-through Close. Given how minimal the vehicle movements area is along Sunrise Close, the additional traffic generated by the taxi depot would be considered to be substantial.” 

One of the residents said she no longer felt safe to walk down Blacks or Dawson roads with her son and two dogs due to the speeds at which some of the taxis were driven. Most of the eight written objections were comprehensive in the information provided which was noted by councillors at the meeting. 

“Their objections were very clear, factual and the submissions were done very professionally,” Cr Lenore Wyatt commented. 

Council voted unanimously to refuse Mr Di Maggio’s application.

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