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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

What Byron Council did last Thursday

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Family Court scrapped

Despite overwhelming opposition from Australia’s family law specialists and advocates, the federal Liberal-Nationals government and cross benchers scrapped the Family Law Court and subsumed it into the circuit courts last week.

Police confirm Main Arm drug operation

NSW Police have finally confirmed what pretty much every one in Main Arm already knows – they are conducting drug operations in the north of the Shire.

‘Hollywood’ drug squads over the top

I guess we have to thank Hollywood for the enduring myth that a black-clad squad of elite 'blokes', preferably with cool helicopters, from the capital are needed to crack down on really serious crime in hick parts of the country like Mullumbimby.

This humble vessel is where councillors and staff pour the fruits of their deliberations. Photo Hans Lovejoy

Adani, Carmichael mines tabled

There’s an update to a resolution that asked Council not do business with companies associated with Adani and the Carmichael mine in QLD. After Council contractors were found to be listed on the ‘Who’s Out’ section of the Market Forces website Adani list, councillors agreed to continue contracts with Downer EDI. And mining corporation GHD will also continue to do Council business, despite Market Forces claiming they are ‘at risk of becoming involved in the Adani Carmichael project.’

GHD are assisting Council with the ‘restoration of landslips, funded through the NDRRA Program’, and the ‘North Ocean Shores Fire Main Upgrade and Byron STP Odour Control Upgrade Inlet Works Investigation’.

Lucky councillors yielded – staff advised councillors the cost of setting an example against the dominant coal-export industry (in this case operated by a foreign corporation) would cost ratepayers around $4m. It’s also a reminder that almost every facet of society can be traced back to the exploitation of resources and, in this case, one that is known to be contributing to increasing CO2 levels.

Tallowood

The sixth stage of Mullum’s Tallowood estate has been approved, which will see an 18-residential lot subdivision, a public reserve, a drainage reserve, a residual allotment, associated roads, earthworks, landscaping and infrastructure. According to minutes from a recent local traffic committee (LTC) meeting, there are no plans yet to upgrade the connecting unsealed road to Main Arm Road.

But traffic counters will be placed out on the northern end of Plover Parkway and the southern end of Tuckeroo Ave ‘to determine the traffic volumes using the two routes.’

‘Dependent on the volumes, the option to temporarily close Plover Parkway may be further investigated and subsequently reported back to LTC.

Flogging rail land

Letters to government departments and politicians will soon be sent in an effort to defer the selling of prime railway land in Mullum by Sydney bureaucrats. The mayor’s motion says Council needs time ‘to develop, through a carefully considered, community-focused and design-led process, preferred future use options’ for the land that is located along Prince Street.

In ‘partnership with the community’, the mayor wishes to ‘form and develop a proposal to either purchase the site or pursue a long-term Community Title or lease arrangement.’

Tamara Smith MLA and Ben Franklin MLC will be lobbied ‘seeking their support and advocacy within NSW Parliament and with TfNSW.’

To date, Mr Franklin has not replied to The Echo’s questions regarding the sale of the valuable public asset.

Saddle Road

A Planning Proposal (PP) for rezoning a large swathe of land on Saddle and Gulgan Roads, between Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads, will continue along Council’s conveyor belt after Cr Spooner was supported with a motion that will see it considered once ‘further information is available’.

Two sides of the contentious urban development were presented in public access – proponent Kelvin Daly of Bruns Eco Village (BEV) is pushing for the entire rezone and development of the scenic ridgeline, while Matthew O’Reilly aka Cleva wants any development to go through the ‘proper process’ of a residential strategy. The proposal came about because Council, led by the mayor, had invited Saddle Road landowners to submit a PP that could address affordable housing. And while it proposes to provide 20 per cent of land as affordable, it’s been criticised as a Trojan horse owing to a lack of detail and the unlikelihood such an area would ever be affordable.

Mr Daly told the chamber that his BEV proposal should not go alone as a development and said he has struck a good relationship with other landowners. Removing the other landowners from the proposal ‘wouldn’t help BEV’, he said.

‘There’s goodwill between neighbours,’ said Mr Daly. Yet when Cleva spoke, he refuted the neighbourly goodwill and said repeated requests from his group to engage with BEV have been unsuccessful.

He said the unpublished staff report on the planning proposal doesn’t meet state government requirements and there is no legislation to deal with such a proposal.

Cleva said, ‘This was a desktop analysis that lacked many of the standard assessments for such a rezone.’

Cleva added that the landowners are not waiting for E zoning to be finalised. ‘We had a good process with the residential strategy and it should happen instead of this.’

Affordable housing on Council land

For some time now councillors and staff had been eyeing off selling a prime ‘low hanging fruit’ Council asset – vacant land between Council’s carpark and the preschool on Station Street in Mullum.

A large fig tree on the land that was in the way of Council’s plans was saved, thanks to a community-led effort.

With an agreement of $1.3m for the purchase, affordable-housing provider North Coast Community Housing provided plans for twenty-five one-bedroom dwellings with a component of six ‘affordable units to be held in perpetuity for 30 years.

While it was above government requirements, it wasn’t welcomed by all.

In its submission to the DA, the Mullum Community Preschool’s director Dianne Davison wrote, ‘Many were dismayed by the lack of consideration for families in this proposed development and surprised to discover how few units were allocated for the purpose of affordable housing for low income groups.’

‘It seems that many people within the community are now aware of the fact that this development, while couched in terms like “affordable” and “not for profit,” is actually not that at all.’

Davison continued, ‘The tangible things that this development will offer to the families and children of our community under this current one will be the smell of rubbish drifting from the skip bins virtually against the preschool’s fence line. Concerns about fumes and traffic congestion, ‘even less parking and a dangerous entry point’ were also expressed ‘on an already fraught road.’

Yet councillors agreed to proceed with the development, except that ‘prior to the completion of the contract of sale, Council will consider if there is any legal impediment to entering into an alternative payment arrangement of investing the land into the project in return for an equivalent value of built units (with any shortfall to be paid in cash) to be managed by North Coast Community Housing as affordable units on behalf of Council.’

Staff will also ‘determine the financial return to Council of entering into the alternative payment arrangement over the estimated lifetime of the constructed units’, and ‘if there exists no legal impediment to this alternative payment arrangement and Council is no worse off financially, a report is brought to Council on 22 March 2018 for consideration.’

Jonson Street protection works

As a result of a motion by Cr Jan Hackett, Council staff will prepare a ‘scoping report for the engagement of a landscape architect to draw up a range of concept plans that fit in with the Byron Bay masterplan vision for Main Beach.’

A recognised and ‘innovative coastal engineer’ will also be consulted to ‘ensure designs meet OEH requirements including, but not limited to, a) protecting public assets, b) reducing the constructed footprint on the natural environment, c) having a positive impact on adjacent and downdrift beaches (Cavanbah, Belongil) ie removing the groynes, and d) where possible, preferencing soft stabilisation and the management of social and natural ecosystems.’

North Byron Parklands submission

Cr Basil Cameron’s suggested wording for Council’s North Byron Parklands submission was tweaked and slightly watered down in Cr Richardson’s successful amendment (Crs Coorey, Cameron and Hackett voted against).

Council will ask the state government that Council become the consent authority for future festivals held at the Yelgun site, where Spendour In The Grass and Falls Fest are held. In its submission to the state government, Council will affirm ‘that the environmental and community interests are best served if an application for a permanent events site were to be assessed, considered and determined by Byron Shire Council…’

The submission will also ‘note with concern that the application is proceeding without conditions of the concept approval being met.’

They relate to ‘a water treatment facility’ and ‘a wastewater treatment facility’.

The submission will also note ‘the difficulties that residents and others including community representatives on the Regulatory Working Group (RWG) have experienced in having concerns addressed by Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) and details issues, complaints and submissions, previously raised by Council, residents, businesses and others regarding the application or otherwise of approval conditions during the trial period.’

The proposed increase in numbers (up to 50,000) or frequency of events is not supported by Council ‘at least until all required key performance indicators (KPIs) are met for two consecutive years as verified by independent consultants.’

The submission will also ‘acknowledge issues regarding noise, traffic, flooding, fire, terrorism and other safety issues alongside employment, cultural enrichment, economic development and financial support for wider community organisations and projects.’

Secondary dwelling contributions

Councillors voted to ask staff to prepare a Byron Developer Contributions plan, which includes notifying the public and seeking submissions on the ‘proposal to terminate the waiver of section 94 and section 64 contributions for secondary dwellings.’

All councillors were in favour of Cr Coorey’s motion with Cr Ndiaye not present for the vote.

To view the full minutes of the meeting, visit Council’s newly updated website: www.byron.nsw.gov.au.


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