Mooball residents alarmed that no flood impact study has been done for a controversial rezoning plan which would boost its size and population at least tenfold, are rallying on Saturday to air their concerns.
Surrounding sugar cane growers also fear the development, involving up to 300 new housing lots, could have a major impact on their farms if flood mitigation controls were not put in place.
The residents also fear the rural character of their small village on Tweed Valley Way will be affected with the smaller-than-expected house lots proposed.
They say their concerns in submissions made after a recent public exhibition of the plan were not properly assessed and that fair and due process has not been followed.
The pro-development majority faction of council (Crs Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne), backed by Cr Barry Longland, last week pushed the longstanding rezoning plan along in a 4-2 vote. The state government will have the final say in determining the proposal.
But at next week’s (August 20) general council meeting, the issue will return after it was realised the vote at last Thursday’s planning committee meeting contradicted an earlier resolution of council from last year.
A rescission motion lodged by Crs Longland and Byrne is expected to allow the rezoning approval process to proceed as per the majority faction motion.
An amendment by mayor Gary Bagnall and Greens Cr Katie Milne to support staff planners wanting an increase in the minimum lot size from 450 square metres to 700-square metres, as well as larger block sizes (3ha rather than 1ha) was defeated along the same voting pattern.
The bid by the two councillors to stop assessment of the plan until the developers (mostly a consortium of local landowners) provided flood-impact, bushfire hazard and other studies was also defeated.
Council’s chief planner expressed reservations about the developer not providing the previously-requested studies, saying the staff report ‘highlighted a critical impasse in the process of this planning proposal’.
‘Council has resolved on several occasion that the proponent is to provide further particulars and studies, but those requests have not been taken up,’ Mr Connell said.
‘This stalemate has resulted in queries from the local community but without the information or direction to provide answers.
‘The outstanding information, including preparation, detailed investigation of Flood Impact Assessment, Geotechnical and Slope Stability, Bushfire Hazard Assessment, and those matters relating to the amenity and protection of Lot B, must either be provided, or Council must resolve that this information, or part thereof, is no longer required,’ he said.
The majority faction opted for not requiring the developer to provide the information at this stage of the rezoning process.
That will be the main focus of the community meeting this Saturday, August 15, at the Victory Hotel, Mooball, from midday, organised by local Barry Pappin.
Mr Pappin told Echonetdaily that concerns of flood and amenity impacts by locals had been ignored by the four councillors pushing the plan along, and the meeting would give locals more detailed information on the rezoning.
The majority faction say the rezoning is good for the village, which is now bypassed by the Pacific Highway, and that an expanding population would make it thrive again and improve business in the village.
Mr Pappin said the village was in a flood zone and proper flood-impact studies should be carried out.
‘We also want a proper environmental impact study to be done before the rezoning goes ahead, and we believe fair and due process has not been followed’ he said.
‘There are also issues of amenity such as noise and dust yet to be addressed, we want to keep this village rural and the smaller size lots would destroy that.
‘Canegrowers around here have also expressed concerns over flooding impacts,’ Mr Pappin said.
The sleepy village was once famed for its dairy-cow-hide-themed cafe, power poles and rocks, when the highway used to go through it.
Owners of several farms surrounding the village on the western side of the old highway are seeking to rezone hundreds of acres of grazing and farming land for the new housing estate with a range different-sized lots.
Original plans included lots just 250 square metres, closest to existing homes in the village, as well as 40-hectare farm blocks.
There are also concerns the rezoning plan is premature, with enough land in the shire already subdivided to cater for future growth, such as Kings Forest and Cobaki.
But the councillors backing the plan say Mooball and neighbouring village Burringbar are struggling and sorely need a population boost.
The two former highway towns were given an economic kick in the guts in 2002 when they were bypassed by the new Pacific Highway.
Then just two years later, the decline continued when the Casino–Murwillumbah rail link was scrapped.