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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Five hours spent at last Thursday’s Byron Council

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If you need a fix of local government decision-making, you could dip into the odd five-hour online recording of what occurred at last Thursday’s Council meeting.

Or, you could peruse this; a brief summary of selected big ticket items:

Dual occ deferred 

Councillors voted to defer the decision around a detached dual occupancy at 541 Federal Drive, Federal over landslip concerns.

The successful amendment by Greens Cr Sarah Ndiaye will ask the proponent to relocate the dwelling 50 to 80 metres ‘to avoid land slip areas and the water bore/well’.

During debate, Cr Mark Swivel said he wanted to ‘instil and preserve certainty in the process’ and rely on expert advice ‘where no alternative advice is provided’.

Greens Cr Duncan Dey’s motion to support staff advice was voted down. Instead Crs Balson, Westheimer, Ndiaye, Dey and Pugh voted in favour. Crs Swivel and Mayor Michael Lyon voted against the amendment.

Push for more accessible beaches

Councillors unanimously voted to develop a plan to provide fully accessible beach access on all Byron Shire beaches.

Greens councillor Duncan Dey’s motion states it will seek to provide upgrades at ‘three beaches with lifeguard services and one dog beach within the next three years’.

A budget of $20,000 will be allocated ‘to facilitate engineering and environmental studies’.

It followed morning access, where surfing champ, Pauline Menczer, told councillors there are over 5,000 people living with a disability in the Shire.

‘Beaches are not accessible for them’, she said. ‘The message is that they are not as valued as those who can access the beach’.

She also highlighted the dangerous potholes in Bruns, which are a especially a danger for those with a disability using their vehicles.

A meeting with Reflections Holidays Parks is requested, and staff will explore ‘any available federal and state funding streams for accessibility upgrades’. Crs Alan Hunter and Sarah Ndiaye were not present for the vote.

Flood study motion unsupported

There was no appetite from any councillor to second Cr Dey’s motion to ask staff to investigate solutions for the flood-prone area east of Mullumbimby.

While staff say they have no budget for the project, Cr Dey described his motion as a simple pilot project to get an understanding of how stormwater behaves, and the resulting template could apply to other larger projects such as Byron’s CBD.

During morning access, residents asked councillors why nothing has been done to alleviate the issue.

Resident for 20 years, Amelia, said she was gobsmacked at the inaction.

‘An elderly man told us he used to be able to jump into the creek, now you can stand in it. Why are our drains looking shabby and the drains so shallow? Why is there no funding? Isn’t this important?

Henry Stenning told councillors that he owns one of the properties that the Council drain traverses, and said it ‘was regularly cleaned out, but that stopped a few years ago’.

‘We are willing to provide an easement to Council if it is piped, which requires little or no maintenance’. He suggested a flood gate at Kings Creek. ‘This would mean two landowners would be left to negotiate with’.

Gaggin St DA refused

The elderly owners of a Gaggin Street property in New Brighton have had their plans for alterations and additions to a dwelling refused. Earlier in public access, a neighbour claimed unauthorised works were undertaken with ‘wilful disregard for the role of EPA and Council’. Town planner and former councillor, Sol Ibrahim, argued on behalf of the proponent, saying it was not contrary to Council approvals, and said the staff report around encroachments was incorrect. Crs Lyon, Dey, Swivel, Westheimer, Balson and Pugh voted in favour of refusal, while Crs Hunter and Ndiaye voted against.

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