The decision by four Tweed shire councilors last week to ride roughshod over the vast majority of the Mooball community by removing the recommendation of staff for the rezoning of rural land to increase the minimum lot size from 450m2 to 700m2 will maximise the profits of developers.
All but four submissions raised the issue of the impact on rural character and conflict with agricultural land, with staff recognising the communities concern, the significant variance of small lot density to the existing built form and the potential impact on the rural village character to be considerable staff provided a strong case intrinsic to managing the community expectation, also reflected in the draft Rural Village Strategy.
In making the decision, one councillor falsely stated additional studies were not required by the state government when it is council’s responsibility to identify the constraints of a site for such a proposal to rezone land for residential development.
In particular, council has a duty of care to properly assess hazard risk such as flood, land contamination, bushfire and landslip identified on this site.
A Flood Assessment and Bushfire Report were not provided for public comment. The Engineering Report and Slope Stability Assessment was undertaken in 2010 when the proposed development was larger lots and no residential lots on the steep slopes in line with council’s policy of exclusion of development on steep slopes.
These assessments cannot be considered applicable to the proposed development today. One would think the serious land slip at South Tweed in recent years may have seen some lessons learnt.
The recommendation to increase an area of the site to minimum three-hectare lots to provide buffers for an agricultural operation and to avoid steep land and flow paths of run off along with provisions to reduce the risks of impacts from identified hazards were also thrown out the window.
Regarding the rezoning of land with constraints and development capacity issues, the section 430 investigation into Tweed Shire Council in 2005 found ‘the assumption that the development assessment process can deal with such a situation is flawed because refusal of applications which are permissible in the zone are notoriously difficult’.
Councillors refused to meet the many community members with concerns, refused to accept their petition and refused to accept the record of submissions.
The group purporting to represent the Mooball community when the vast majority of the community were kept in the dark on the extent the proposal had morphed into, raises real questions of motive and could be seen as little more than a political/developer lobby.
When questions started to surface in the community, all of a sudden it folded under the lie it was taken over/infiltrated, when the community did not get that opportunity.
L Smith, Tweed Heads