Byron Council has approved a multi-dwelling development in Byron Bay following an impassioned plea from the property developer.
Residents living next to the property at lot 14 Bangalow Road objected to his plan for five small, detached dwellings on the grounds that it would impact their privacy, create flood risks and bring holiday letting to their quiet enclave.
At a site inspection immediately prior to Thursday’s planning meeting they added claims of soil contamination to the list.
This claim led councillor Cate Coorey to propose a motion requiring the owner to undertake soil testing prior to having his development approved.
For the developer of the property, Sam Kanjo of the KanjoGroup, the contamination claims appeared to be the final straw, coming after a long and protracted application process which had seen him significantly reduce the size and scale of his plans.
‘We advertised this DA twice for a total of six weeks and not once did they [his neighbours] bring up anything about contamination,’ Mr Kanjo said.
‘And now, without any evidence, and on the day of this meeting, they bring these claims.’
He told councillors that they were simply responding to ‘negatives from people who object to everything’.
‘You just think we’re all millionaire developers,’ he told councillors.
‘What’s really, really annoying is that when these people [the neighbours] purchased their land they could have purchased this site and kept it as their own backyards. Instead they said, ‘no, we’ll just use it as our own and then object if anyone else tries to do anything’.’
Cr Coorey defended her motion, saying that the proposed development was right next to a fragile coastal wetland site that needed to be protected.
‘All I’ve asked for is for a site inspection,’ she said.
‘Do you consider that a study to determine the quality of the soil where there was allegedly building rubble in the past is unreasonable?’
But Mayor Simon Richardson said the council needed to ‘look at what’s in front of us in a fair and reasonable way’.
‘We need to avoid just listening to the cheer squad and seeking to avoid being smashed by those who have their own reasons to smash us.’
‘Who here has got an extra $100k to burn because of someone’s four-second thought bubble?’
Cr Coorey’s motion was defeated and an alternative motion, adopting the staff recommendation to approve Mr Andreou’s plans, was passed by seven votes to one.