THE backers of a development billed as the largest land release in Griffith's history have sensationally abandoned the project amid claims it had been "sandbagged" by council.
Sunset Waters, a 417-lot development earmarked for the eastern banks of Lake Wyangan, has been dogged by controversy since it was first proposed more than five years ago.
In a shock announcement on Friday, developers Zep Lanza, John Carbone and Roger Vardanega - who are believed to have poured more than $5 million into the project - said they had shelved plans to continue the development.
The 174-hectare site will be placed on the market as soon as this week. Mr Lanza said a combination of the global financial crisis, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and pressure by council staff had "bled developers dry".
"Council put a lot of hurdles in our way and there were some things they asked us to do that they hadn't done on their own development," Mr Lanza said.
"I'm not bagging the councillors or the staff that are in at the moment, but some of the previous planning staff were really unfair to us.
"The whole thing is just so disappointing. I've been working on this for a lot of years and put a lot of money into it. I've also had private investors that have backed me and I feel like I've let them down."
Mr Lanza said the GFC and the basin plan had taken the oxygen out of the development.
"As soon as the Wentworth Group released its basin report, housing in Griffith hit a brick wall," he said.
"We had to defer the project which left us big interest bills to pay."
Mr Lanza said the financial drain, and a spate of recent health issues, meant he could no longer realise his vision.
"I would still love to do it today and I think now the market has picked back up, it will be a success," he said.
"But I just don't have the fight in me anymore."
The 53-lot first stage of Sunset Water has DA approval and the masterplan for the entire site has also been approved.
Council general manager Brett Stonestreet said while the issues with developers pre-dated his time in Griffith, council always endeavoured to encourage development in the city.
"Council does everything it can to encourage development in the region but unfortunately there are restrictions we have to abide by," Mr Stonestreet said.