Byron Shire councillor Alan Hunter is again facing the ire of residents near his Pinegroves Road, Tyagarah, property after seeking to extend the hours of operation of his controversial road transport terminal.
In an objection to council seen by Echonetdaily, residents Gowan Paton and Graham Mathews contend that the original DA was pushed through council last year under the guise of ‘farm storage activities’.
Mr Hunter has now applied to allow access to the terminal, on sleepy Pinegroves Road, on weekends and public holidays from 7am to 6pm.
This, they say, will disrupt family activities along the road and permanently change the nature of the area.
They also contend that when the initial application was granted, insufficient significance was placed on the local koala population and the impact of the terminal and its associated activity on it.
They wrote that ‘the 2013 DA for a “road transport terminal” was presented to council planning officers and councillors as related to farm storage activities (ie the movement on and off the site of farm produce, machinery and equipment).’
They added that, ‘at least one councillor has acknowledged… that he felt “ambushed” in his voting in council on that particular DA as he had, apparently, accepted at face value the Hunters’ assertions as to the rural nature of the proposed activities.’
They said the unnamed councillor ‘expressed his view that commercial activities such as the storage facility currently being operated by the applicant properly belong on a dedicated industrial area, not in a rural and residential surroundings.’
The writers say that Sundays and public holidays see local residents walking, cycling, skateboarding and chatting along the steep and narrow lane and that ‘clearly the introduction of large numbers of vehicles, driven by strangers to the area, moving up and down this [road] is a recipe for loss of public amenity, the safety of the individuals concerned and the privacy of those residents whose properties abut this lane.’
According to the residents an earlier DA of the Hunters’ ‘airily referred to the area as having “no significant signs of koala habitat”.’
But they say that in recent weeks ‘there have been a number of sightings of koalas in trees nearby and, in one instance, an adult koala was witnessed strolling across the turning circle.’
The writers say they fear an extension of hours would serve to disrupt the movement of koalas and other fauna including native waterfowls that live in the area.
The writers conclude by saying that during an earlier period, when they contend the Hunters were trialling their mini-storage operation, movements on weekends and public holidays caused ‘enormous disruption to both human and wildlife activity in the area, including on one particular Saturday, 20 car movements in and out of the property between the hours of 7am and 9am.’
Cr Hunter responds
Cr Hunter told Echonetdaily his neighbours ‘had nothing else they could complain about than traffic’, the impact of which he said was minimal.
‘We averaged a car a day some weeks. Some weeks we don’t get a truck or a car at all. The storage units don’t have any power so there’s no lights – so very little you could do in the dark,’ he said.
‘The road is such that it has to be slow – it’s narrow and a steep climb. So the dangers they’re saying to wildlife, to kids and so on are unlikely. What’s a street for if it’s not for cars? Cr Hunter asked.
He added that ‘storage is a relatively benign activity. We’ve agreed to and are abiding by the rules that council set as a condition in relation to trucks. There’s been no complaint by the neighbours about that because we haven’t infringed the consent conditions.’
Cr Hunter said he was told by council staff that ‘hours of operation meant the hours in which customers would need to be serviced, such with help to load or unload, but that access was something different again.’
‘Access was defined as when a customer could attend without the need of assistance.
‘The example that was used is that Mullum Co-op has hours of operation but customers have access to the fuel bowser 24/7 if they don’t need assistance,’ Cr Hunter said.