RTA takes home for highway

Moonee resident Paul Nicholls on his Hoys Road property which has now been resumed by the Roads and Traffic Authority.
Moonee resident Paul Nicholls on his Hoys Road property which has now been resumed by the Roads and Traffic Authority. Trevor Veale

PAUL and Sandra Nicholls are paying $250 a week in rent to live in their own home and they are ‘worried sick’.

The Roads and Traffic Authority took ownership of their Moonee property on January 8, for the Pacific Highway redevelopment, after failing to reach agreement with the Nicholls on the value of their four acre property on Hoys Road.

Mr Nicholls said the RTA had offered him $100,000 less than an independent valuer had estimated the property was worth and he had refused to accept it.

He said they made a final offer of $670,000 for his four-bedroom house and four acres of residential 2A land which could be further subdivided.

“It’s ridiculous when you look at current prices,” an angry Mr Nicholls said.

“They are basing it on prices three years ago.

“I’m sitting here worried sick, I’ve got no future and they are going to kick me off my place in two months time.

“I have been travelling to Brisbane to work but I have been unable to work since June and I’ve nearly gone through what I’ve saved.”

The 61-year-old Mr Nicholls, who works on major engineering projects, says the RTA move has left him so short of money he cannot proceed with work on a prototype pump he has been developing for 25 years.

“When I bought this land 12 years ago I did a search to see if it would be affected (by the Pacific Highway bypass) and there were gazetted plans for a full dual carriageway and overhead bridge at Moonee Beach, which did not affect my land, but in 2002 the RTA started plans to put the highway on the western side of the current highway, scrapping years of planning and millions of dollars and delaying the project by seven years.”

His land is located on the western side of the Pacific Highway off Hoys Road and is crossed by Cunninghams Creek.

He said since he bought the land, Coffs Harbour City Council had put out a draft control plan with inaccurate information about future residential capacity.

It was the RTA’s creation of an 80km/h zone at Moonee on the existing highway and their modification of the earth sound barrier at Hoys Road which had doubled the noise pollution quoted as a factor in reducing the value of his property.

Mr Nicholls said the RTA only needed about an acre of his land for the highway and could later sell or subdivide the rest.

A spokesperson for the RTA said the decision to make a compulsory acquisition of any property was never taken lightly.

He said the RTA appreciated that the time leading up to construction of a project could be an anxious one for local communities and made every effort to work with property owners whose land was directly affected.

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