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No public consultation on traffic lights’ decision

Geoff Helisma |

“Consultation: There has been no community consultation over the options,” was the penultimate statement in the report recommending the installation of traffic lights at the intersection of Treelands Drive and Yamba Road.

However, at last week’s Clarence Valley Council meeting on Tuesday August 21, the statement was not mentioned during a three-hour discussion that resulted in five councillors – Mayor Jim Simmons (who changed his vote from the previous week’s committee meeting, at which he supported a roundabout), Andrew Baker, Richie Williamson, Jason Kingsley and Arthur Lysaught – voting for the installation of traffic lights, rather than a one-lane concrete roundabout.

The Local Government Act prescribes in ‘section 89 Matters for consideration’, in part: “…in considering the public interest the matters the council is to consider include: (a) protection of the environment; and, (b) protection of public health, safety and convenience”.

Section 89 is contained within Division 3: ‘Making and determination of applications for approval’.

Consideration of how traffic at the intersection will be managed into the future was triggered by the approval of the proposed Coles service station on the north eastern corner of the intersection.

As a consequence, councillors (apart from councillors Karen Toms, Peter Ellem, Greg Clancy and Debrah Novak) supported the establishment of a voluntary planning agreement (VPA) “for design and implementation of an intersection managed by traffic signals [or other treatments, including roundabouts].

Meanwhile, two weeks before the service station was approved in July 2017, the Independent put several questions to Works and Civil director Troy Anderson (which he answered in an email) based on the premise that traffic lights in Yamba would be of high public interest and, therefore, should be the subject of a separate public consultation.

Clarence Valley Independent: Will this matter be going to the traffic committee for consideration?
Troy Anderson: The matter of intersection treatment to the Treelands Dve/Yamba Rd intersection will be considered by Council at the required time.

It is most likely that the matter will be reported to Council directly and not through the traffic committee.
The matter of the intersection and it requiring treatment was dealt with by the traffic committee in 2015, as part of the rezoning application for the service station site.

CVI: Will Clarence Valley Council conduct a separate consultation on the traffic lights concept?
TA: Council will undertake the design process for the intersection this financial year.Over the past 2 years it has included this project in its delivery plan ($300K each year) and created a sinking fund for the construction of the intersection in the 19/20 year.
The required level of consultation is yet to be determined.

When the development application (DA) was approved in July 2017, staff advised councillors: “It has become apparent that a roundabout may not be the best traffic management device for this intersection; and in fact, may not fit within the area available and meet Australian standards.

“Traffic signals appear to be a better option, and this is supported by both the Development and Operations sections of engineering within Council.”

Subsequently, CVC footed the bill for the traffic study because the “applicant provided the preliminary design and costing for the roundabout [and] it seems unfair that they be required to provide the full design for a traffic signal controlled intersection”, the report to the July 2017 council meeting stated.

It has been estimated that the service station will increase traffic at the intersection by eight per cent, which is also the percentage of the construction costs that the developer/owner, Westlawn Property Trust, will pay towards whatever intersection treatment is implemented.

Meanwhile, CVC has put aside $900,000 specifically for upgrading the intersection – $300k per year, commencing in 2016/17.

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