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Byron Shire
June 24, 2021

NIMBY-free zone

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I believe that I was misquoted in your article ‘Boarding house plan deferred’.

You quoted me as saying, ‘Ms Harvey believes that boarding houses are associated with drugs and alcohol problems and mental illness’. However, what I actually said was, ‘Council’s social planner echoes the findings of the ombudsman’s report on boarding houses – a significant proportion of residents in boarding houses have mental illness, cognitive impairment, or drug and alcohol problems… and… this may put residents and neighbours at risk’.

I was in fact pointing out to councillors the views of the council’s own social planner and that of the NSW Ombudsman and using a direct quote from council’s own report. The context that this comment was made in was the ‘mix’ of use in one building. Further, the vulnerable people I was referring to were the boarding-house residents. This proposal does not intend to provide any onsite manager and boarding-house tenants are not afforded the same rights as other tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. I refer you to the NSW Ombudsman report 2011 ‘More than Board and Lodging’.

You seemed to have missed a very important fact in reporting this story. The block of land already has a house on it and this development is proposed to be built in the back yard. The developer has applied under two different state planning policies (which both attract significant financial incentives) for the one building.

The opposition to the proposal by some 80 local residents has nothing to do with the fact that it proposes a boarding house. The opposition is because of the overdevelopment of the one block of land and the lack of amenity it would create for residents on that property – as well as the impact on neighbouring properties due to overdevelopment.

Our local community is close-knit and very inclusive. We already have a large number of residents who have a variety of disabilities, including mental health issues. We do not discriminate nor exclude them from our community. None of the residents who are in opposition to the development have ever expressed a NIMBY attitude. In fact, we approached council and advised that we want development to occur on this site – just not overdevelopment.

I note the comment by Mr Geof Webb and, if he runs a boarding house that provides amenity and safety for his residents, then I applaud his efforts.

Christine Harvey, Girards Hill


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