Trial hears councillors rezoned against planners' advice

Friday 19 July 2013 15.01
Businessman Jim Kennedy and four former councillors are pleading not guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court to corruption in the rezoning process
Businessman Jim Kennedy and four former councillors are pleading not guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court to corruption in the rezoning process

A senior council official has told a corruption trial that a South Dublin rezoning voted through in 1997 does not make sense in planning terms.

Businessman Jim Kennedy, 66, with an address at Queens Way, Gibraltar. and four former councillors are pleading not guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court to corruption in the rezoning process.

Council planner Richard Cremins told the court that the motion to rezone part of the Jackson Way lands in Carrickmines as industrial was passed in December 1997 against the advice of Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown's manager.

He said the manager had described the application as premature as the lands were subject to plans for the South Eastern Motorway and did not have adequate road access or water supply.

But councillors at the time, including 57-year-old Liam Cosgrave of Fine Gael, with an address at Blackrock, Co Dublin, who signed the motion; and Tony Fox, 72, of Churchtown, Dublin, then with Fianna Fáil, voted by 13 to 11 to rezone just under 37 acres.

Mr Cremins said the rezoning did not make sense in planning terms as the land zoned as industrial was divorced from the proposed LUAS stop by agricultural land.

Under cross-examination, he said the land was not subsequently dezoned but added that councillors did not do this for fear of judicial review.

He also admitted that adjoining lands were also rezoned in later development plans but he said officials had to agree to this to get proper boundaries for development.

A later motion passed by councillors in 1998 ensured that no development could take place on the 37 acres until the motorway was in place with access and water supply.

Another motion signed by Mr Cosgrave and Mr Fox to rezone 88 acres of Jackson Way lands as residential in January 1998 was defeated by 16 votes to 10.

The manager had warned that these lands were outside the proposed ring-road motorway which was considered a natural development boundary in the Dublin Transport Initiative Strategy.

Mr Cosgrave and Mr Fox deny claims by former lobbyist Frank Dunlop that they received bribes totalling £7,000 each to support the rezonings.

Then Fianna Fáil councillors Don Lydon, 74, with an address in Stillorgan, Co Dublin and Colm McGrath, 56, of Saggart, Co Dublin, deny receiving bribes of £3,000 and £2,000 respectively for a previous rezoning attempt in 1992.

Mr Kennedy, a director of the company Jackson Way which owns around half the 37 acres successfully rezoned in 1997, denies giving former lobbyist Frank Dunlop £25,000 to bribe the councillors.