Convincing each other through discussion sure beats any alternative humans have come up with, goes the saying.
It’s either brute force or the gentle art of persuasion that gets things done.
Classical Greek philosopher Aristotle defined three ways to achieve persuasion: ethos, logos and pathos.
Ethos is appealing to one’s ethical sensibilities, logos is about using logic, and pathos is appealing to emotion.
So it’s clear that Trump, for example, only uses pathos to wield power. While ethics and logic are not important in Trump World, many politicians valiantly still attempt to persuade others using ethos, logos and pathos.
Were they successfully deployed at last Thursday’s Council meeting?
Well perhaps… but before councillors yabbered away, it was the people’s time to shine during morning public access.
The return of the Rural Land Use Strategy, which is a ‘planning instrument’ that sits alongside LEPs and DCPs etc, was received with mixed reviews.
Representing Community Associations Byron Shire (CABS), Matthew O’Reilly said it was a good and transparent process with consultation that led to a good outcome.
But Judy Macdonald, who represented the Main Arm Residents’ Association, was not so impressed.
She said the strategy, ‘lacks detail and was not developed in line with other policies’.
‘These policies are yet to be formulated,’ she said. ‘This open approach [to planning] could bring good or bad outcomes. Increased engagement is needed… This was an election issue… There are no village plans; we need to control what happens in our villages. A new working relationship [with the community] needs to be developed.’
The Rural Land Use Strategy was finalised later in the day, ready to be posted off to the state government to consider.
But on with the show: regular Council watchers know that a large amount of time is spent debating how to deal with developments.
There needs to be a firm, mature decision when it comes to public interests, expectations and equity.
One example is The Farm, which occupies the northern entrance to Byron Bay just off the Pacific Highway on Ewsingsdale Road.
Perhaps they are victim of their own success, given the constantly full carpark and a packed restaurant, bakery and flower shop.
But it’s also a farm, as the name suggests, and apart from producing local food, the owners educate the public on the importance of sustainable farming practices.
Regardless, rules need to be followed, considering The Farm’s DA morphed somewhat over time and has been accused of non-compliance and DA breaches.
Greens Cr Michael Lyon led the charge, arguing that ‘while a lot is made of the positives, there are negatives.’
He said, ‘Other businesses have suffered; many in Byron and surrounding regions… the original approvals are different [from the present DA]. We need to make a statement and get on the front foot.’
Meanwhile, mayor Simon Richardson disagreed with his fellow Greens councillor and made his position largely by using pathos.
Sounding less and less like a Greenie at every Council meeting, Cr Richardson played down the importance of consistent planning principles and instead highlighted the success of the business.
There is benefit beyond planning, he said, and pointed to one of his proudest achievements – rezoning the Byron Arts and Industry Estate. Once full of illegal activities, he explained that a good outcome was brokered when mixed uses (residential and light commercial) were approved. ‘It was sent to the state government and it was accepted.’
‘What is occurring [at The Farm] is on the whole positive, he said. ‘The land is better now than before; it’s been enhanced. Every square inch of the property has farming activities on it. Yes, transgressions were made. We are not committing ourselves other than to a proposal which we can knock back [if needed] in a few months.’
The mayor continued to spruik The Farm’s positives, such as assisting women from the SHIFT project and donating to the Liberation Larder. ‘The business and education on the site are occurring at a high quality,’ he said.
In contrast, independent Cr Cate Coorey was not so impressed. Her foreshadowed motion to ‘Not endorse the progression of a Planning Proposal’ and bring The Farm into compliance ‘with the conditions of consent of the original DAs,’ was unsupported.
Cr Coorey said that after two DAs and nine months in trying to get them to comply, ‘They will continue to be able to operate as is,’ if her foreshadowed motion was supported.
‘This should be brought into line. NSW Farmers sent us a letter saying this does not comply with RU1 zoning or far north coast planning. We are being asked to change the LEP. Why change the rules? Why not bring them into our rules?’
As usual, light comedic relief came from Cr Alan Hunter, the lone conservative in the room.
He said this approval shouldn’t come at the expense of neighbours, which is ironic considering he fought hard to establish a transport hub and self-storage facility on his property against his neighbours’ wishes.
‘I would be amenable if the applicants talked to neighbours,’ he said. ‘We get a lot of these developments because we haven’t planned for it. It’s not rocket science.’
The comments were support by independent Cr Basil Cameron, who directed councillors’ attention back to their responsibility to provide coherent and equitable planning.
‘Jobs and growth?’ he said of the mayor’s remarks. ‘This is about the planning system,’ he said. ‘We should be looking at that.’
The outcome – after what seemed an eternity of yabbering – was support for Cr Michael Lyon’s motion, which will see The Farm prepare a planning proposal at their own cost. The proposal includes the bakery, agricultural training/education facilities, admin offices and small-scale information centre.
And there is a caveat – those ‘unauthorised uses’ will be investigated and actioned in accordance with Council’s Enforcement Policy if ‘Council becomes aware of uses of the property beyond those within the planning proposal.’
In favour of the motion were Crs Coorey, Martin, Lyon, Cameron, Hackett and Hunter, while Crs Ndiaye, Richardson and Spooner voted against.
Not only but also
Councillors have also voted to try to preserve very old and protected trees in the Bruns Terrace Caravan Park.
As reported in The Echo last week, a new ecologist’s report commissioned by Council claims some of the trees are around 400 years old, providing new information on the southern end of the park. Some trees are believed to have been planted as a memorial after WWI.
The managers of the park are a government-run corporation called the North Coast Holiday Parks, who say at this point they have a vegetation- management plan and were dismissive of the report when it was presented to them.
Residents such as Sean O’Meara, who lives opposite the park, claim the Trust have ignored their own plans, which are flawed anyway.
Council will be writing to Crown Lands urgently requesting a barrier to be erected to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage on and near the site and Council staff will seek to work with the Trust to achieve the recommendations of the ecology report.