By Darren Coyne
Lismore has adopted a Growth Management Strategy to cope with an expected population increase of 5,900 people over the next 20 years.
The GMS, which has taken five years to develop, provides enough land to provide at least 5,035 dwellings when combined with existing available zoned land.
The council had voted to place the GMS on public display for two months at its November 2014 meeting, and that exhibition period was then extended for a month until February this year
At last night’s meeting however, a number of property owners asked that their land be included.
Cr Neil Marks moved that the GMS be adopted but that the various parcels of land be included, arguing that there ‘was no harm to have them in’.
‘It takes a long time to get these things done and it’s a mighty big step,” Cr Marks said.
He said rural residential developments especially were what set Lismore apart from areas along the coast.
‘You could work until you’re 95 to afford living down there on the beach,’ he said,
‘This is a great way to say we’re open for business because rural residential is the way to go. It’s what we’ve got,’ he said.
Cr Marks also spoke in favour of providing more land to allow Nimbin to grow, saying it was the jewel in the crown.
‘There might be a lot of jokes (about Nimbin) but that’s what attracts people … living in harmony with their community.’
Cr Bennett argued against the BMS saying he supported ’98 per cent’ of it but could not support constraint mapping that could impinge on agricultural activity or the further expansion of rural landshare communities.
‘We already have 70 rural landsharing communities and ratepayers are subsidizing them to the tune of about a million dollars,’ he said.
‘If we continue to allow it to grow where is it going to end?’
Staff assured Cr Bennett that the GMS actually reduced the amount of land available for rural landsharing, and that future lots would be subject to rating.
Crs Greg Bennett, Glenys Richie and Mathew Sheibel supported Cr Marks, but the motion was lost by mayor Jenny Dowell’s casting vote.
Cr Vanessa Ekins moved an amendment that the original recommendation from staff be adopted.
Cr Ekins said all councillors had spent considerable time examining the properties that were included in the BMS and she was concerned at moves to include prime agricultural land.
‘I don’t support including ones at the last minute. We need to be conservative about this,’ she said.
‘There are almost 2000 more dwellings (proposed in the GMS) than we need according to assessments by planners.
‘This is a fairly modest proposal and there’s good reason we’ve chosen the lots we have.
‘We’re doing a review in five years and we can see how growth has gone.’
Cr Simon Clough said Cr Marks’ motion had been ‘dropped on us at the last moment’.
Cr Ekins, Isaac Smith, Neil Marks, Glenys Richie, Simon Clough, Jenny Dowell and Gianpiero Battista supported the staff recommendation, with Greg Bennett and Mathew Scheibel voting against.
The GMS will now be forwarded to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, with a review set down for five years time.