Cr Keith Williams
I stepped down as Deputy Mayor and was delighted to see fellow Balance for Ballina candidate, Councillor Nathan Willis elected in my stead. Nathan is a first term Councillor from A Ward (centred on Ballina township), an immigration lawyer and it’s fair to say, one of the more progressive members of Council. Nathan has already demonstrated his leadership qualities at a regional level, as Chair of the Richmond–Tweed Regional Library Committee and is regarded as a thoughtful, intelligent contributor to debate.
Buffer zones protected
Luke Blandford spoke in opposition to the council staff recommendation to refuse a planning proposal for the Verandah Lifestyle Estate (mobile home village) in the buffer zone between Alstonville and Wollongbar. Despite some of the more pro-development Councillors speaking against the recommendation, I spoke in favour of defending the buffer zone from incursions, stating that the community have clearly indicated they value the rural buffer between the villages and we must be clear that we will defend it. The staff recommendation was supported and the proposal rejected.
Brad Pollard from the Lennox Chamber of Commerce spoke in favour the staff recommendation for a three month trial of a one way configuration for Ballina St in Lennox Head as part of the consultation and investigation stage of the Lennox Head Village Renewal Project. With the Lennox Head Centenary Celebrations due in 2022, the pressure is on to plan, fund and complete the works in time. The recommendation was supported and Council will receive further reports on funding the estimated $7 million project.
Supporting healthy waterways
Jason White spoke in opposition to the council staff recommendation to launch proceedings in the Local Court for the construction of an internal road and creek crossing without development consent at a property in Old Byron Bay Rd. I moved the staff recommendation arguing that Council must act to protect creeks from this kind of illegal activity. Too many local creeks have been severely damaged and wildlife lost as a result of poorly designed and constructed creek crossings that have subsequently washed out. The recommendation was supported.
I was also happy to move the adoption of the Healthy Waterways Program annual report and review. The Report highlighted more than $2 million of works that have been funded and initiated through the program to improve the health of the Richmond River. Ballina Council staff have done an excellent job at leveraging external funding, with more than $1 million received from a number state funding programs.
I seconded a successful Notice Of Motion from Cr Ben Smith for a briefing on the approval and construction of a Skate Park in Wollongbar as a priority (a site at TAFE currently under investigation), with the objective of commencing construction this council term.
Mayor David Wright said ‘Council is very keen to move on this project as a priority, we are also very conscious of making the right decision for a preferred location and we believe Wollongbar TAFE is this location.’
Council voted to proceed with a planning proposal for increased residential development within the B3 Commercial Core (CBD) Zone. The proposal would provide more flexibility for shop-top type housing if the site activates two or more street fronts. Public consultation to follow.
In a move designed to stimulate small business in the Shire, Council has released a draft policy for consultation that will see developer contributions waived for change of use applications for premises less than 200m². The proposal was a recommendation from Council’s recently adopted Economic Development Strategy. This is a great, practical step to supporting new business in the Shire. I hope we get lots of positive feedback.