Eight large fig trees along the Bruxner Highway at the entrance to Lismore have paid the ultimate price for progress.
The mature fig trees have been chopped down to make way for a roundabout at the entrance to the new Masters Home Improvement store next to Bunnings.
The discovery of Aboriginal artefacts at the rear of the development site has also stopped work on a flood management project linked to the development approval
The Lismore city council approved the $11.5 million development in December last year.
The hardware store, which is owned by Woolworths, will cover 9,903 square metres and have 389 car parks.
It will provide direct competition to its neighbor Bunnings.
Council staff imposed conditions on the consent under delegated authority after Roads and Maritime Services approved the roundabout.
The council’s strategic property project manager Lindsay Walker said at the time that a condition of the approval was also the Wilsons River Channel Improvement Project.
As part of that project, a 100-m floodway was being evacuated behind the development site that was expected to provide a 100mm benefit to the CBD in a one-in-100-year flood.
However, the discovery of Aboriginal artefacts has halted that project, while the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), and Aboriginal stakeholders, determine the way forward.
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said the council was waiting to hear from OEH before council staff determined how to proceed.
‘Artefacts were discovered but not human remains as some people have been saying,’ she said.
As for the fig trees, Cr Dowell said the DA for Masters required the roundabout, which was approved by RMS.
She said Masters was required to plant two trees for each tree removed, and they would be planted along the avenue to fill gaps.
‘This DA was advertised for community comment but no one drew attention to this condition,’ she said.
She said the DA did not go before councilors for determination but was considered by the traffic management committee.
‘95 per cent of our DAs are determined by staff under delegation.’
‘The DA was placed on public exhibition but the conditions of consent (relating to the roundabout) would have been among hundreds of conditions.
‘Because this is a highway the RMS has the ultimate say on what happens so there would be very little that council could do.’
She said Masters was hoping to open in January next year.