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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

Zoning changes causing angst

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As owners of the Ballina Beach Village at South Ballina, we have reviewed Mayor Silver’s response to the Miranda Devine article in Sunday Telegraph 29 July.

His press release shows that he clearly has little or no grasp of zoning issues. Under The Ballina Beach Village’s current zoning (coastal protection 7F) we are permitted at least 18 different uses (with consent) while under E2 these rights are reduced to just three uses – none of them a caravan park. Does Mayor Silver seriously think we can convert one of the north coast’s largest tourism destinations for 400 people into a bed and breakfast or a school? Indeed, this is unlikely given that Council have already written to us (and surely this must be on file) stating clearly that they have no intention of allowing us to intensify (meaning grow, change or improve) our business. That includes serving food on a plate or allowing activities like yoga!

It is legally naïve to suggest that existing use rights, on which the Village would then have to rely on, are either as commercially viable, or workable. Any lawyer (and most people with business experience) would know that existing use rights are no rights at all. Difficult to prove, impossible to manage, expensive to maintain and eroding over time.

With one-third of the shire’s landowners (prime agricultural, tourism and even just house blocks) poised with the E2 axe hanging over their heads, the question we all want answered is ‘why didn’t the mayor and the councillors (who are the gatekeepers of Council and the representatives of their voting constituents) challenge these zonings?’.

Banks won’t give a loan on E2 or E3 zonings! You can’t improve the property (or therefore sell it easily), or even reduce the bushfire hazard (as in fact we are legally required to do), which creates a potential for a massive loss of property ($7.5 million of built environment) and more importantly life (up to 400 people). One councillor said to me ‘we were snowed by the staff – we just didn’t understand it.’

I know that I speak for all the affected landowners in the shire in expressing our profound disappointment in Mayor Silver’s lack of representation. Even the most cursory enquiries would have revealed that the large-scale misapplication of the E2 and E3 zonings will create the perfect storm in Ballina Shire. Loss of jobs, loss of land-banked superannuation, loss of families, loss of money to do environmental restoration!

In the history of Ballina Shire there has never been such a total betrayal of the voters and their inalienable rights. Not happy, Phil – not happy!

We have been advised that the Department of Planning in Sydney also agree that the E2 and E3 zonings are highly contentious and have deferred properties affected by this zoning from the new LEP. More on that later.

Rikki Grinberg and Bernard Grinberg, South Ballina


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