A local fruit and vegetable shop has gone to war with Penrith City Council, claiming unfair and strict regulations are in poor taste during the current pandemic climate.
Farm Fresh Llandilo has been offering produce to the Penrith community since 1982 including fruit and vegetables as well as a variety of items such as dairy products, bread, eggs, deli meats, ice cream and confectionery.
Now they are facing off with Council after being stung with hefty compliance fines, following complaints that were made about building alterations and the items they are selling.
As a result, they must cease trading from a section of their store and remove stock items including eggs, honey, pasta, canned beans, deli meats, olive oil, packaged cakes, cheese and ice-cream, to name a few.
Co-owner Tony Agostino believes the complaint was lodged by a local competitor.
“We’ve sold confectionery products since 1990,” Mr Agostino told the Weekender.
“We do have consent to sell those products, like confectionery but it has now come down to what Council officers and compliance consider what confectionery is, they don’t consider packaged cake or ice cream as confectionery and therefore they consider them illegal for us to sell.
“Eggs pasta and honey we’ve been selling since 1997 with consent but they are saying that’s now null and void and we must take them off the shelf.
“We are not allowed to sell canned beans, if that’s not a vegetable then someone tell me what is.”
Mr Agostino said the ‘building extension’ was just replacing pre-existing materials.
The owners appealed for an exemption, given the current impact Coronavirus is having on residents’ access to essential food items; but this was refused.
But a spokesperson from Penrith Council said the business has “been the subject of ongoing non-compliance matters due to unauthorised building extensions and breaching the conditions of a development consent”.
“Council issued a penalty infringement notice in the amount of $3,000 for an unauthorised structure which the owners elected to pursue through a Court hearing, where they pleaded guilty to the offence,” the spokesperson said.
“The Court imposed a fine for the offence in the amount of $20,000.
“Further breaches have been identified where Llandilo Farm Fresh has continued selling products within the unauthorised extension, erecting unauthorised signage and items being sold that were in breach of their permitted products allowed for sale.
“Llandilo Farm Fresh has commenced litigation in the Land and Environment Court concerning the unauthorised building extensions and the interpretation of the consent concerning the sale of products.”
The spokesperson said a decision was made by Council to refuse consent to the expansion of the store, which was appealed by the owners back in 2010.
It was then the NSW Court of Appeal determined that the operators of the store were limited to selling certain products, and to a maximum floor area of 150sqm.
Another court hearing is scheduled for October where the shop’s fate will be decided, regarding whether the building alterations should be demolished and how they should trade.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.