Council’s four-year term (or sentence?) has passed the halfway point!
As a refresher, local government is the third, and constitutionally unrecognised, limb of Australian government. They exist purely at the pleasure of the state governments, and while Byron Shire Council staff are paid reasonably, councillors are not.
It’s a tough job where everyone expects you to do their bidding. Councillors are often abused by the unwashed masses and are expected to be across complex issues.
Fun fact: other bigger councils pay their councillors much better. Anyhoo, what happened at last Thursday’s Council meeting? Glad you asked.
Greens finally protect some trees
Precious land in Brunswick Heads that was earmarked for camping activities by a large government-run holiday park corporation may be preserved, after councillors voted unanimously not to allow ‘use or activity’ within the southern precinct of the Terrace Reserve Holiday Park.
A protected and languishing Coastal Cypress Pines community has been the subject of much tussling over the years between Council and the North Coast Holiday Parks Trust – that has been changing names and CEOs over its short existence. Now known as Reflections, they appear to only exist to make money for the state government via increasing visitor numbers.
An approval to operate for the other section of Terrace Reserve Holiday Park has been granted. Wahoo!
Additionally, ‘All existing infrastructure (except the existing amenities facility) is to be removed [in the southern precinct] where it is deemed to be a safe option.’
Greens Cr Sarah Ndiaye’s motion allows Reflections Holiday Parks an approval to operate (ATO) for the rest of the Terrace Reserve Holiday Park. Well done, councillors!
Anti-vax v anti-speech
An effort by Cr Paul Spooner (Labor) to refuse hall bookings from anti-vaccination groups or individuals was knocked back by the Greens/left majority at the meeting, which inevitably opened the floor to debate the merits of free speech. Or not.
Crs Cameron, Richardson, Ndiaye, Lyon, and Martin voted against the motion while Crs Spooner, Hackett and Hunter voted in favour.
It’s well known that Byron Shire has some of the highest rates of non-immunisation in the nation. Heidi Robertson on behalf of the Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters told the gallery in public access, ‘We are known for diversity and inclusion, but we shouldn’t compromise ourselves.’
Later, when it came to the vote, Greens Cr Jeanette Martin told the chamber that her own experience led her to question the effectiveness of vaccination. She said she lost her baby to whooping cough, which was passed on by a sibling who was immunised.
A DA to subdivide and create four residential lots at Coomburra Cres in Ocean Shores has been granted, after all councillors supported Greens Cr Michael Lyon’s motion. But the approval comes with conditions that may give pause to would-be developers keen to maximise floor-space ratio while trashing the ecological credentials of Ocean Shores.
A Vegetation Management Plan must be must be prepared, including compensatory plantings plans.
A geotechnical report is also required, which will certify there will be an ‘unlikely risk category from slip or subsidence.’
During public access, an affected resident said in addition to geotech issues: ‘The number of bins proposed along the street is unacceptable,’ adding that the site is too steep and soggy.
Tinkering with Byron Bay’s height limits has sparked yabber yabber and humbug for many years.
It was even an election issue two years ago, where promises were made to retain the two-storey height limit to avoid Gold Coastification.
Fast forward two years, and councillors have now voted (Cr Cameron against) to standardise the height of buildings within the Byron Bay Town Centre.
It will now be ‘subject to a maximum height of 11.5m, to include: a) the area bounded by Bay Lane to the north, Lawson Street to the south, Jonson Street to the west and Middleton Street to the east; and, b) the area bounded by Kingsley Street to the north and Browning Street to the south, Jonson Street to the west and Middleton Lane and an unnamed lane to the east.’