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Byron Shire
October 27, 2021

Myocum transitional group home opposed

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Ben Smith leaving Ballina Council

The unique contributions of current Deputy Mayor Ben Smith to Ballina Shire Council are coming to an end, as he's decided to hang up his councillor hat after thirteen years, and not contest the December election.

Council purports to be concerned about the rights of residents, due process and fairness.

It has very rightly stood up to the state government on CSG.

However it is hypocritical of them to have granted approval to the transitional group home (TGH) in Myocum, with the honourable exception of Cr Rose Wanchap who opposed it.

How can the mayor and councillors claim the high moral ground if this is typical of how they ramrod local residents, as was demonstrated with the two development approvals at this recent ordinary meeting?

Opposition to the road transport terminal was strong and unified from neighbours.

This was also true of neighbours directly affected by the TGH proposal in Kingsvale Road.

Far from opposition by ‘some’ neighbours, 20 houses occupied by permanent residents opposed the application on a number of grounds, including highly qualified health professionals who have had decades of experience.

Where is the social licence here?

Procedures need to be disclosed. I won’t bore you with the full gamut of procedural anomalies and discrepancies, but this one will serve as example.

Every resident in the street should have been notified by letter of the DA proposed given the nature of this particular TGH which was passed under state legislation regarding ‘Affordable Rental Housing’.

In fact, residents will be charged $50,000 for their treatment over two to three months.

Council failed to notify all residents, aside from those abutting the property. Of those immediate neighbours affected, opposition was unanimous.

The notification of the DA for the rest of us was placed in The Byron Shire Echo on New Year’s Eve, with council requiring submissions on January 6.

Where is the honesty and transparency here? One might also ask regarding procedure, did the Council genuinely approach its decision making role in an objective and unbiased way at that Thursday meeting, or whether their minds had been made up long before?

People in this local area support the concept of transitional group homes and their social benefits.

Indeed, the TGH project at Coffs Harbour is an admirable model, which does not intrude on neighbours.

The issue is not drug dependency, but how genuinely appropriate this particular development is in this location, and whether such a small amended group of only five clients can, in any community centre, get the support services necessary.

The economies of scale simply don’t work. A TGH that doesn’t do a good job in meeting its purpose puts residents and the community at risk. The decision on this DA was irrational and unethical, and presents an alarming precedent.

Lynne Richardson, Myocum

 


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