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Palmers Island rezoning goes back to gateway

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has resolved to resubmit Yamba Welding & Engineering’s planning proposal to the NSW Planning Gateway – to rezone a 21.22 hectare block of land on Palmers Island from RU1 Primary Production to part IN4 Working Waterfront and part W3 Working Waterway for the purpose of developing a marine-based industry precinct.
Councillors first unanimously endorsed sending the proposal to the gateway in July 2014 – which the NSW Department of Planning rejected because “there was insufficient justification that Council’s proposal for a 100m setback from the existing dwellings would adequately address the acoustic and land use conflict impacts, and that the proposal lacked sufficient information on the suitability and viability of the proposed mitigation measures”.
In November 2016 councillors again sent the application to the gateway (councillors Ellem and Clancy were opposed, Cr Novak declared a pecuniary interest and left the meeting) “subject entirely … to the IN4 Working Waterway area [being] reduced by 40 per cent”, among other conditions.
Subsequently, correspondence between the project’s proponent, CVC and the NSW Department of Planning resulted in the proposal’s tabling at the July 18 council meeting, seeking another resolution “to determine if Council still supports the proposal” with the inclusion of “acoustic barrier walls of a minimum height of 8 metres in order to meet the noise attenuation requirements”.
The proposal came to the council meeting as an “urgent, supplementary and late item of business”; however, councillors were divided on the urgency of making a decision.
Councillor Richie Williamson, who was supported by councillors Clancy, Novak and Ellem, was unsuccessful in deferring the matter to the August council meeting, so it could be considered through the “normal” committee meeting process because there were “strong and conflicting views that need to be aired”.
The vote was lost on the casting vote of deputy mayor and chair Jason Kingsley, in the absence of Cr Jim Simmons, who declared a non-significant non-pecuniary interest in the matter because one of his sons “is a partner in a significant business” with one of the objectors.
The mayor said this was a recent development.
During debate and questions on deferring the matter to August, acting general manager Ashley Lindsay (now CVC’s GM) explained that: had the revised proposal come through the normal committee meeting process, then members of the public could have made deputations, however, deputations cannot be made at full council meetings.
If the gateway approves the resubmitted planning proposal, then the subsequent development application (DA) would provide the public with the opportunity to make submissions – much like the recently approved planning proposal and DA for a service station in Yamba.
Councillor Andrew Baker argued that “there is a place and a time for everything” and that when the DA is submitted that would be the time. “This is a process thing, I really don’t know why [the gateway] sent it back” to CVC, he said.
Councillor Arthur Lysaught said “we should be supporting developers as best we can”.
Councillor Peter Ellem said “we shouldn’t be afraid to give members of the public input into every step of the decision making process”.
Councillor Karen Toms said this “is not about deferring from public consultation”, that’s already been done as part of the process to date, she said. “The community has had their say; we’ve listened and made changes.”
In his right of reply, Cr Williamson argued that the public had not been provided any opportunity to comment on the proposed eight metre high wall, however, he did acknowledge that the processing of the proposal “had … followed … the letter of the law”.
The report to council noted: “The proposed acoustic walls will have potential visual impacts on the rural character of the landscape and amenity and outlook for dwellings in the vicinity.
“This … issue [will] be dealt with as part of a development application and would also have to be considered in terms of impact on flooding if the proposal was to proceed, however, further details [will be] requested prior to public exhibition if a Gateway Determination is issued.”
Councillors Baker, Toms, Lysaught and Kingsley voted to send the planning proposal to the gateway; councillors Novak, Clancy, Ellem and Williamson were opposed; Cr Kingsley used his casting vote to carry the motion.
At the end of debate, Cr Baker asked if anybody should consider earlier declarations of interest on the matter. No one responded.
Councillor Novak had changed her November pecuniary interest declaration to non-significant non-pecuniary (on the basis that the “owner is a previous client”), and elected to participate in the matter.

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