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THE Samford Valley will lose one of its curio attractions after the local council gave a businessman two weeks to remove a vintage rail carriage that was being used as an art studio.
Ven Grasso bought the Queensland Government Railways carriage almost 12 years ago and it has been used as The Art Train studio at Samford Village ever since.
He said all-up, including the initial purchase, subsequent restorations and the addition of a deck, he has spent close to $50,000 on the carriage which is from the late 1930s.
“It would make a perfect man cave. It is fully air-conditioned, new electrics, new roof and it comes with a wooden deck with wrought iron scrolls,” Mr Grasso said.
The carriage is a well-known feature in Station Street, Samford Village.
It sits opposite the Samford District Historical Museum and is in the same street as The Flying Nun Café and The Store of Requirement which is better known as the Harry Potter shop.
Mr Grasso said his run-in with the Moreton Bay Regional Council started almost 12 months ago when he received a show cause notice about the legality of the passenger carriage being used as a business premises.
The issue reached a crisis point on Tuesday when council notified him he now faced a $3,500 fine.
“I’ve been asked to show cause on the carriage and the story is, I’ve been the bad boy because it is on a commercial site,” he said.
“To comply, they require me to do this massive block wall for fire prevention and build an enormous ramp to allow access for people with disabilities and it’s going to cost about $30,000.”
The vintage rail carriage at Samford.Mr Grasso said local councillor Darren Grimwade had helped him buy some time to find a new owner for the carriage.
Locals have spoken of starting a petition to save keep it Samford a Facebook post that offers the passenger carriage for sale for $25,000.
Mr Grimwade told The Courier-Mail that the carriage could stay providing it was made compliant with their building codes to make it an approved structure.
He said that unfortunately the carriage held no historical significance for the local Samford area.
“It’s been going on for 12 months after council investigated a complaint from a resident,” he said.
“He was told this week he would be fined $3,500...and he has a two weeks grace period to remove the carriage and hold the fine and that’s what we have done.”
Mr Grasso said he bought the carriage in good faith off the Warwick Museum after being told it was a train that serviced Samford but that has since been debunked.
RAIL Back on Track commuter advocate and rail historian Robert Dow said the carriage was in “great shape” and was certainly from around the era Mr Grasso claimed.
“It could be of interest to rail enthusiasts and of interest to heritage operators depending on the state of the under train,” he said.
“It certainly is an oldish carriage.”
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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