'Millions' at stake in phone tower dispute
An informal chat in the bar of a bowls club could end up costing a developer millions of dollars after a dispute erupted over contradictory claims that an obtrusive mobile-phone tower could be moved to make way for a residential project.
The legal dispute has pitted developer Bill Michailides against Alma Sports Club and estate agency Rodney Morley Persichetti over the $7.61 million sale of the Caulfield North property last year.
Mr Michailides alleges that during a meeting in the club house agent Rodney Morley assured him that the tower could be removed for a $300,000 fee. It was a claim subsequently denied by the tower's operator, Crown Castle, after the sale.
"Money paid so far to obtain planning approvals, approximately $400,000, may well be wasted if the tower cannot be relocated," Mr Michailides said in an affidavit.
"[I] will also suffer loss and damage if the property cannot be developed to the same extent as it could without the tower ... it could exceed $2,500,000."
But the claims have been denied by Mr Morley, who maintains a discussion about removing the tower never took place.
"In my professional opinion, the existence of the telecommunications tower on the subject property is no impediment to developing the property for residential purposes," he said in an affidavit.
Both sides also offering competing interpretations about why $330,000 was knocked off the winning auction bid of $7.94 million before the contract was signed.
Mr Michailides alleges it was compensation for moving the tower.
Mr Morley contends the discount was available regardless of the future of the tower as a way to reduce GST on the purchase price.
Affidavits filed by several others support Mr Morley.
Mr Michailides is seeking damages or the return of his deposit and damages.