Auburn mayor Ronney Oueik wants to bulldoze the heritage-listed home he bought in 2009 in Homebush, NSW, and build a new one. His original application to demolish the historic Camden Lodgewas unanimously rejected by Strathfield Council in 2010, but now he is trying again.
Courier Mail (H/T Allan I) Neighbours said Mr Oueik had held public meetings with them in a bid to remove any objections to his plans, and had threatened to turn the building into a Muslim prayer hall if he didn’t get his way.
His new application comes after a fire ripped through the residence in January. The blaze is being investigated by police. Mr Oueik denies any involvement with the fire.
Marlene Doran, who has lived in Homebush for 60 years and is the archivist for the heritage society, said the threat to sell the house to turn it into a Muslim prayer hall was disgraceful. (Actually, it’s a brilliant idea. Think of all the nice loud music a mosque will bring to the neighborhood)
“This is a threat to get the neighbours onside so he can demolish,” she said. “It’s disgusting. He’s done nothing whatsoever with the house. It’s demolition by neglect.”
But several other neighbours who spoke to The Sunday Telegraph said they now supported the application to demolish the house after seeing Mr Oueik show men in traditional Muslim robes around the property.
“The house can’t be fixed, so it probably has to be demolished,” one neighbour said. “He’s told us he will be selling it to a Muslim community organisation which wants to use the site as a prayer hall. We don’t need that in the street.”
Mr Oueik said the property was too expensive to repair. He said if council wanted to preserve it they should buy it off him and foot the $2 million-plus bill or he would sell it to one of several “Muslim organisations” who were interested. “I would rather not name the organisation yet, but I will if the council rejects my application,” he said.