Why much-loved Lismore shop could close after 20 years
NORTH Lismore business Rainbow Wholefoods is in danger of closing after 20 years because of a bureaucratic battle and downturn in trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Owner Tony Stillone said his business was in a precarious position financially.
"We are trading on around 30 per cent of our previous takings which is just enough to cover staff wages," he said
"There's also a food shortage, we can't get all the supplies we want."
He said it would probably mean the end of the business he had put his heart into since founding it in 2000.
What could also tip Mr Stillone over the edge is Lismore City Council's insistence that a $150,000 firewall be installed at the property at 49 Terania St, North Lismore.
The council said it had been working with both the building owner and Mr Stillone to provide support, including finding an alternative premise for the business.
The council said while the property was classified as Land Use 1: General Commercial Zoning: Neighbourhood Centre, it required a firewall to meet safety regulations.
The matter of who paid for works was between the landlord and the tenant.
However, a council spokesman said the council had not advised the occupant the premises needed to be vacated.
"Since council became aware of non-compliant use of the building in 2013, the occupant and the building owner have not come to an arrangement for who is responsible for upgrading the building, including the firewall," the spokesman said.
"In 2014, the owner of the site lodged a Development Application which was approved with conditions to undertake work, particularly in relation to fire safety and health-related matters.
"However, that work not been satisfactorily completed as to date.
"In 2020, council followed up on noncompliance and provided some concessions on the DA and additional time frames to become compliant (as) council is very concerned about the outstanding non-compliant and critical fire safety issues."
The spokesman said throughout March and April this year, council staff worked with the business operator to understand the works needed, advised him about business support, as well as locating an alternative premise for the business.
Several attempts have been made to contact the property owner for comment.