Wollongong City Council has dropped legal proceedings against one of the owners of the short-lived Cliff Rd eatery, Bar Coco.
Business partner John Galaxidis was charged with failing to comply with the site’s development consent, amid allegations the former dessert cafe had operated outside its legal trading hours.
The council issued Mr Galaxidis with a $1500 fine in April, claiming the bar had breached the terms of its development application on January 27 by trading past its 9.30pm curfew.
Mr Galaxidis contested the fine, electing to take the matter before Wollongong Local Court, but the council yesterday withdrew its prosecution.
Solicitor Lorri Field, acting on behalf of the council, told the court the penalty notice had been issued on evidence from a witness, but there had since been ‘‘difficulty’’ with that person, forcing the council to drop the matter.
Mr Galaxidis alleged the prosecution had forced the bar to close, costing the business’ three partners more than $100,000.
The cafe shut up shop in May, just six months after opening on the ground floor of The Strand apartment block.
The site’s former tenant, Verdi’s House of Fine Foods, closed its doors last year.
Making an application for professional costs yesterday, Mr Galaxidis claimed the council had refused to provide him with a crucial statutory declaration from a witness, despite him repeatedly pressing council staff and making a formal application for the document.
The 45-year-old alleged the council had failed to produce the ‘‘bogus’’ statement because it was ‘‘protecting’’ its author.
Ms Field said she did not have instructions to provide Mr Galaxidis with the document or disclose why the witness had become unavailable.
She told the court the council was unlikely to pay Mr Galaxidis’ costs, arguing it had withdrawn proceedings at an early stage.
Mr Galaxidis requested time to seek further advice, claiming he had already paid out nearly $10,000 in legal fees over the ongoing battle and would consider issuing a subpoena, forcing the council to hand over the statement.
‘‘This has been going on for 11 weeks... his simple $1500 fine has had a dangerous domino effect... [the council] just can’t issue a fine and then retract it,’’ he said.
Magistrate Michael Stoddart adjourned the matter to October 18.