The most hotly debated item at yesterday’s Ballina Shire Council meeting was the development application (DA) for three additional house blocks inside the buffer zone of the Gap Road quarry and asphalt plant in Alstonville.
The property seeking the subdivision was subject to a restriction on title to prevent subdivision.
The impact of the asphalt plant, run by Boral, on the local area has been the subject of ongoing debate. Some residents feel that the impact of the odour and chemicals from the plant has an adverse impact on their homes and lives. These include reports of nose bleeds, nausea, headaches, from the fumes and odours. The quarry has not been operating for a number of years but Boral recently extended their lease for the asphalt plant on the site for another five years.
Cr Keith Williams opposed the staff recommendation for approval, arguing that even if the DA was approved, Council should not remove the restriction on title until the asphalt plant was no longer operating at the quarry. An amendment to defer and seek legal advice was defeated.
Mayor David Wright said he had lived in Alstonville for many years from 1975 and believed that the issues with the asphalt plant had only arisen in the last few years.
‘There can be neighbours who live next door to one another where one says there is an issue and the other has their windows open and says there isn’t a problem,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘I’d say half the people are in favour. They know that if the plant closes all the land around Panorama Estate will be developed.’
Mr Wright told Echonetdaily that the NSW Health and the EPA have both said that the asphalt plant is complying with current regulations.
While he said he wasn’t sure why the restriction on subdividing had been put in place on that lot the neighbouring property had had ten houses approved on it last year.
‘I voted to approve the DA because it was recommended by staff and is consistent with other approvals in the area.’
The final vote on the DA was split five votes in favour and five against with the Mayor using his casting vote to change the status quo and approve the controversial DA.