The level of panic concerning this proposed development is understandable as one reads the exaggeration, misunderstanding and factual errors that are being passed on from one person to another.
Everyone should take a deep breath and have some faith in common sense.
Please remember that our traffic problems have been around for 20 years when the bypass was first planned.
There are over 20,000 cars coming in each day during peak season. Most are tourists, others are coming from Mullum, Bruns, Ewingsdale, Ocean Shores, Sunrise and the Byron industrial estate. West Byron is offering $6,000-$7,000 per block to go towards the bypass.
The mayor has been negotiating for months on getting this payment up-front (for around 800 blocks). Does this sound like someone who rejects the development outright?
Improved bike paths will encourage riding to town. The nearby Sunrise shopping district will be energised with new customers.
More people will visit the northern beaches, and take advantage of the beach access and amenities provided by North Beach.
People working in the industrial estate will choose to live in West Byron, and walk to work.
Acid sulphate soils are a common issue, and exist throughout the coastal zone, including where Sunrise and the industrial estate are now.
They are managed effectively through the stringent environmental controls already in place. Lime (a natural substance) is used. Disturbance of soil is severely restricted. Water runoff is controlled. This will be dealt with at the development application stage, which will be determined by Council, not the state government.
No koala habitat will be destroyed. More plantings will be made. Buffer zones around water ways and habitat will be maintained. In place of open grassland, residents will plant native trees. We can turn these old beef cattle holding pens into a world-class eco-community. This will be dealt with at the development application stage, which will be determined by Council, not the state government.
It’s not true that people will be crammed in 150 sqm blocks. A full range of block sizes will be offered to meet a range of needs.
Smaller blocks will be ideal for older residents, who will be closer to the new planned hospital at Ewingsdale, and the highway if required. They are more affordable and cheaper to build on. Larger blocks will also be available. This will be dealt with at the development application stage, which will be determined by Council, not the state government.
For those who work outside Byron, West Byron means not having to drive through town from Suffolk to get to the highway.
Where do you live now? Was it once a flash point for opposition to development? Would Sunrise, Baywood Chase or Lilli Pilli be embraced today if they were being rezoned?
Let’s go for balance and common sense instead of doom and gloom. The younger generation need employment. Tradies need work in their shire. There hasn’t been a new land release in Byron for 20 years. Blocks will sell gradually over a 10-20 year release.
We can do this. We can manage this properly. Let’s have some balance. It doesn’t have to be about yes or no. It can be all about how.
As for the urgency motion, it was presented to councillors by the mayor the day before our Council meeting.
The motion was to ask the state government for a halt to the zoning application on the basis of claims made by the Byron Residents Group.
How can councillors investigate the veracity of these claims overnight before the ordinary meeting in order to make an informed decision?
How can the rest of the community have time to conduct their own investigation, and speak for or against the motion without adequate notice?
Urgency motions are not the prerogative of the mayor to approve. The law requires that it be determined by all councillors.
The mayor failed to prove the urgency. The matter can now come to Council in three weeks time if the mayor wishes to make a notice of motion.
He will have to make his case then. It will be published for all to read, with a staff report attached. Councillors will be able to ask staff critical questions about the claims. Staff responses will be provided within the report and directly to us.
Proponents and opponents will be able to speak in public access.
That’s it. Relax, West Byron was not approved!
This is the democratic process, which I always thought the Greens champion. I’m not so sure anymore.
I was elected to rationally consider every matter from a non-partisan starting point. It’s easy to slavishly follow the dictates of a political party, or those of a vocal community group.
It’s much harder to be neutral and ignore the pressure coming from all sides to make a fair and balanced decision.
Everyone thinks they are right, they know best, they’re real locals, and they’re the ‘community’. Governing is about balancing all the disparate and desperate views within this most colourful of shires.
That is how social justice is achieved. This is what Rose has been doing from day one.
Perhaps if more people attended Council meetings and watched the 8-9 long hours we spend debating issues, they would get a better understanding of how difficult it can be.
Cr Sol Ibrahim, Byron Shire Council