The next to last meeting of Ballina Shire Council before the election seemed to go for an eternity, rather like this much extended term of council.
Mayor Wright got in first with a mayoral minute about a black spot in Alstonville, not at all happy about the transport department’s ‘solution’. Read the full story here.
This was followed by a long debate about the integration of old environmental protection zones into the latest version of the Ballina Local Environmental Plan for Gateway Determination.
The situation was described variously as a mess’, the ‘least worst option’, and a hotch-potch forced upon Ballina by various state governments, which no one appears happy with, least of all affected rural landholders with mixed use properties, who said city planning-based instruments were unsuitable for rural properties, with out of date aerial mapping bearing no relation to what was actually happening on the ground.
Council decided not to consult each affected landholder prior to commencing the planning process, but instead voted to exhibit the new planning proposals following an expected affirmative Gateway Determination at state level.
Pat Morton Lookout
Despite some passionate submissions from representatives of the Lennox Surfing Reserve and Crs Jeff Johnson, Sharon Parry and Keith Williams, the proposed path at Lennox Head’s iconic lookout was not delayed to allow for further community consideration.
The majority ignored concerns about safety, heritage, ‘vibe’ and how exactly they were going to pay for it to settle on path Option 1 with Rock Salt Pitted Coloured Concrete, completing the Lennox-Ballina shared use path.
Council also decided to further consult the indigenous community on renaming the lookout.
This was followed by a visit from the accountants, who declared all was dandy with Ballina’s finances, despite COVID whacking the budget bottom line.
The latest plan for a commercial precinct in Cumbalum/Ballina Heights Estate was approved, in principle at least, pending detailed analysis and discussions to come.
After shelving an earlier plan, the developer is now proposing that the shopping area be built on the corner of Power Drive and Ballina Heights Drive in this fast-growing but under-serviced area.
A passionate presentation from Cr Eoin Johnston about the dangers to drivers and pedestrians from unsuccessful drainage infrastructure led to council calling for a report assessing options to rectify the intrusion of these works into the road on the eastern approach to Youngmans Creek Bridge, on Rous Mill Road.
This was followed by a lengthy discussion about the benefits to Ballina’s economy of linking local cycle routes with the rail trail being built through Bangalow. Cr Sharon Cadwallader found unanimous support for a report to explore the idea.
Alstonville was greenlit for more infill development, there was universal support for ambitious revised future plans for Kingsford Smith Park, and argument about the pros and cons of Ballina’s North Wall becoming the site of extensive personal memorials, like the
breakwall at Evans Head (another report was commissioned).
Books and surfing
Much of the afternoon was taken up by a heated discussion about whether Ballina should separate from the Richmond Tweed Library Service after the unpopular decision from head office in Lismore to close all local libraries until December 1, apart from Click and Collect.
The meeting was closed with Cr Steve McCarthy waxing lyrical about free surfing culture, and the possibility of extending the Lennox Surfing Reserve much further south, although it was unclear quite what this would mean in practice, after council had earlier that day voted to ignore the wishes of the custodians of the Lennox Reserve.
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