The Catholic Church’s attempt to rezone a 9 hectare block of land near the motorway at Cumbalum, with a view to 20 new residential lots, has been blocked by Ballina Council on noise and environmental grounds.
Council was unswayed by a deputation from the developer and a noise expert, as well as 239 pages of technical attachments, submitted on behalf of St Francis Xavier Parish.
Speaking for the proponent, noise consultant Jason Fox from TTM said the noise issues were manageable, and that council was being overly concerned.
However Cr Keith Williams asked, ‘Should we be approving rezoning when we know there will be noise issues on those properties, not just on upper floors or now and again, but consistent noise from highway at ground level, not able to be remediated by sound barriers?
‘We should not be approving this,’ he said.
Cr Nathan Willis asked council staff how what was being proposed for Cumbalum compared to existing noise amelioration works at Alstonville.
Manager for Strategic Planning Matt Wood said terrain had a significant influence on whether noise barriers would work, and said retrofitting existing residences was quite a different matter to allowing new residences so close to a major road.
Newly elected Deputy Mayor Cr Sharon Cadwallader agreed with staff’s recommendation to refuse the proposal, noting the unsuitable topography of the land and koala habitat mapping in the area.
She also noted that the noise problem was only going to get worse with predictions of increased freight movements, including B triples, proposed for the motorway.
Cr Jeff Johnson, who built his house in Cumbalum, agreed that there was already a lot of noise from the highway, saying it was ‘quite shattering actually’, even though he was a long way back from where the proposed blocks would be.
‘I don’t know how they would address the noise issues so close to the highway,’ he said.
Cr Ben Smith said the site had the potential for some lots, but at a much different scale. ‘When we looked at this years ago, this was always a block you couldn’t do much with.’
Cr Smith supported his fellow councillors on the noise issue.
All councillors voted unanimously to decline the proposed LEP amendment.