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February 5, 2023

Byron Cr Hunter plans to expand transport terminal

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Byron Shire Councillor Alan Hunter's plans to expand the transport terminal on his farm.
Byron Shire Councillor Alan Hunter’s plans to expand the transport terminal on his farm.

Residents on Pinegroves Road, Myocum, are again bracing themselves for more plans by their high-profile neighbour.

Byron Shire deputy mayor and Nationals Party member Alan Hunter has confirmed with The Echo he intends to lodge a a section 96 application with council to expand the permitted uses for his transport terminal at his farm in Myocum.

He told The Echo the plans are ‘to alter one of the conditions of the consent that impacts on the farm-related traffic in terms of the number of vehicles over four tonnes unladen. Currently the condition potentially prevents us from moving any cattle, stock feed and other farm supplies onto or from the farm by truck,’ Cr Hunter said.

Council’s planning review committee will determine if the application is to be determined by staff or councillors next week.

Relations have been strained for some time between Cr Hunter and his Pinegroves Road neighbours after he sought to establish a transport terminal at the end of the quiet road.

But councillors passed it in May this year despite the proposal being slammed by town planner Graham Meineke, who was employed by residents to defend their road.

He said the staff report ‘was deficient, as was the application.’

Resident Angus Way told The Echo at the time, ‘We struggled with how a transport terminal could be approved without a traffic study or a noise impact statement.’

Traffic concerns

At the time, a foreshadowed motion with restrictions by Cr Hunter’s fellow team members, Crs Woods and Cubis, saw the application gain unanimous support (Cr Spooner was absent).

But resident Gowan Paton has slammed Mr Hunter’s new proposal, suggesting the councillor is ‘indirectly aiming at continuing filling his many storage sheds that he has near his home, which will create a huge amount of traffic again.’

‘Apart from the traffic issue my very big concern is a terrible accident will occur on the very steep descent outside my home where children play regularly.’

‘The very sad thing about this situation is that Mr Hunter originally told us he was building a farm storage shed and denied that he was starting up an illegal storage business which has left all of the residents not able to trust him.

‘We have a wonderful, supporting community in Pinegroves Road and the very person one would hope to be supportive and caring towards his neighbours is a councillor who appears to not have any care towards his fellow neighbours.’

No idea it was illegal

But Cr Hunter defended his operations, telling The Echo, ‘For the last ten years I have been bringing in farm produce from other areas for storage, on-farm use and sale to local businesses. I have never denied [having] a storage business but I had no idea that what I was doing was illegal.

‘I have since obtained council approval to correct any of the past issues.

‘Is it reasonable to expect others to monitor the safety of their children when they play unsupervised on a public road?

‘Although the steep descent means trucks are necessarily descending slowly, less than 40km/h, at no time should any children be allowed to play regularly unsupervised on a public road.

‘In fact this neighbour’s children are often playing on our farm with their friends, other neighbours, as do our grandchildren.

‘The only concern any neighbour could have is passing traffic, and to this end I am applying to cap truck movements to something reasonable for the ongoing farm business. The only requirement for the neighbour is to supervise their children when playing on the public road, if they should ever be in that position.

‘This issue highlights a much broader one across the shire, where long-standing farm operations interface with the new residential urban sprawl. Either we have to accept the need for farms to be respected as businesses managing commercial realities with environmental and social restraints, or have them also dissected into residential allotments.

‘It seems there is an expectation by some that no matter where we live, everything around us should comply with just how we want it to be. I think it can get a bit over the top – this neighbour has told me he objects to the public use of the public road.

‘I have never denied storage, after all that is what sheds are for, nor have I denied a business intent, after all that is what farms are for. If that means I can’t be trusted, then so be it.’

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