‘HOLE IN THE GROUND’ – MANAGER ADVISES AGAINST ATTEMPT TO CALL IN BOND

23 September 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan Town Council were advised by the Town Manager (David Fallon) on Monday night that it could prove a lengthy and legally complicated process to call in the bond in relation to the stalled mixed use development project – or ‘hole in the ground’ as it has been dubbed locally.
Mr Fallon advised against such a move and recommended that the Council continue its efforts in co-operation with the developers Clarkes to have the site of the development restored as a car-park.
The members were debating a motion in the name of Independent councillor Seamus Treanor, “That this Council get expert advice regarding the Clarke group’s position on the now infamous hole in the ground and the legalities regarding the status of the bond.”
During the discussion Fianna Fáil’s Robbie Gallagher referred to contacts he had made with Clarkes and ongoing negotiations which, he believed, could result in “a positive development all round” in relation to resolving the problems at the site.
Moving his motion, Colr Treanor asked if the Council had sought legal advice on the status of the bond for the project and whether it was watertight. He thought only very miniscule work had so far gone on towards restoring the site as a car-park, and feared that they would still be talking about the matter this time next year.
Colr Treanor said that, if the bond was secure, he was calling on the Council to remove the current contractor from the site immediately and put the restoration of the site out to tender.
“The traders of the town have suffered enough because of it,” he said of the project.
Sean Conlon of Sinn Féin said that as the motion was worded, seeking an update on the legalities and the status of the bond, he did not have any problem in seconding it.
Confirming that the Council had engaged expert legal advice on the matter, the Manager said that the members might feel it was very straightforward to call in the bond, but that was not the case legally – if the Council tried to do it, the process would take far longer than what they were trying to do at present with the co-operation of Clarkes.
Mr Fallon said that the contractors were taking in some material at present, and were liaising with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the amount of fill to be brought in and the particular licence difficulties that might arise. The EPA was adjudicating on which had jurisdiction on this matter.
The Manager informed the meeting that the legal advice at present was to go on as they were doing and not to call in the bond as yet. The other side might bring in counter-arguments if this was done, and the bank involved might not accede to it readily. He assured the members that the Council was trying to progress this matter as expediently as possible.
When Colr Conlon asked if there was any word of the planning permission that Clarkes would require to restore the car-park, Monaghan Co Council’s Senior Executive Planner Adrian Hughes, who was at Monday’s meeting for a presentation on matters associated with the new Monaghan Town Development Plan, said that he had met with Clarkes some weeks ago and advised them on the requirements for the planning permission, and what the content of it should be.
Mr Hughes added that as yet they had not received the planning application.
Colr Gallagher said he shared Colr Treanor’s frustration, as did all the members. The Council’s sole purpose currently was to get to the position where the car-park would be restored as soon as possible.
He had contacts with Clarkes on the issue, and they in turn were negotiating with a number of parties. As much as he could say was that, if these negotiations proved fruitful, they might be in a position where the filling in of the site could be solved sooner rather than later.
“In the not-too-distant future, there might be an announcement where there will be a positive development all round,” Colr Gallagher added.
Pádraigín Uí Mhurchadha said they all wanted to see the situation moved on as quickly as possible, and for the site not to be sitting in the same situation next year as Colr Treanor had said.

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