Six of nine Clarence Valley councillors have voted to approve a Coles service station on the corner of Yamba Road and Treelands Drive – the issue of how traffic will be managed at Yamba’s busiest intersection, however, is a problem for another day.
At last week’s Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting (July 18), Cr Andrew Baker made strident arguments to support the development application’s (DA) conditioned approval.
As far as he was concerned, constructing a service station at the site was the obvious outcome when councillors, on two occasions, unanimously supported a planning proposal (PP) to rezone one of the two blocks, from residential to business, on which the service station is sited: on July 21, 2015 (when the PP was first tabled before going to NSW Department of Planning & Environment for rezoning approval) and on December 8, 2015, following the PP’s public exhibition.
“It’s no secret that a servo has been encouraged by this council,” Cr Baker said.
He said the DA “needs to be considered for what it is” and that “this council was very clear on exactly it was doing two years ago”.
He said that any associated traffic problems caused by the development, “92 per cent, anyway [CVC’s staff have assessed that the service station will increase traffic by eight per cent]”, was CVC’s problem.
“This intersection will be chaos whether there’s a servo there or not … but the issue of the intersection should not be dragged onto a DA that does not deserve it,” he said.
For the information of nearby residents, he said he had a “few quick facts of life”: “If you live on a busy road you can expect traffic; if you live near a busy intersection, you can expect traffic to be turning.
“If you live near a business zone, you can expect businesses to want to be open for business.”
In his right of reply, Cr Baker said if there was any concern about the site’s suitability for a service station it would have been raised “two years ago … nothing happened”.
There were seven submissions made following the PP’s exhibition in September 2015: five from the public, which addressed traffic issues, loss of residential amenity, hours of operation, onsite storage of flammable liquids and environmental impacts including light and odour pollution; and, one each from the Office of Environment and Heritage and the RMS, which addressed similar issues, as well as flooding, Aboriginal heritage and the disturbance of acid sulphate soils.
The DA’s exhibition in May 2016, however, was a matter that “generated significant community interest”, the report to council stated; “with 25 submissions and a petition containing 1076 signatures against the proposal”.
Councillor Baker argued, as did councillors Richie Williamson, Karen Toms, Arthur Lysaught and Jason Kingsley, that all of the concerns raised in the submissions had been properly addressed – and conditioned in the DA by CVC staff – in accordance with relevant planning laws.
These submissions raised the same issues discussed as those made to the PP in September 2015.
There was no mention of traffic lights as an option at the intersection in any of the publically exhibited documents (a roundabout was the suggested option); hence it was not discussed in any of the submissions, apart from one that suggested that traffic lights would be a “desirable proposition”.
The “intersection treatment type” will be the subject of a voluntary planning agreement (VPA) between Westlawn Property Trust and CVC, which will “be subject of a report to, and decision by, Council not later than 31 July 2018”, the councillor’s decision states.
Councillors Peter Ellem, Debrah Novak and Greg Clancy opposed the DA.
Councillor Ellem reversed his decision from the previous week’s committee meeting – to not participate in debate because he had signed the petition against the service station – and joined Cr Novak, who also signed the petition but had declared she would participate, to debate the matter.
Councillor Clancy said that CVC “had a bad record of listening to the public” and reiterated concerns raised in the submissions, as did councillors Ellem and Novak; and they each voiced disapproval of installing traffic lights at the intersection.
The mayor, Jim Simmons, said his main concern was the application for 24-hour trading; however, his concern was “alleviated” by conditioning the hours of operation to between 5am and 7.30pm, seven days a week.