An opportunity lost
By TOBY WALKER
WHEN councils implement new fees and charges, they expect their constituents to take the opportunity to offer feedback, be it good or bad.
So Clarence Valley Council councillors were somewhat surprised on Monday night when they arrived in Grafton for a scheduled meeting with developers, only to find no-one had turned up.
Council had sent 80 letters to developers across the Valley inviting them to the meeting in order to allow them an opportu- nity to question councillors on the recently released set of development-related fees and charges.
Councillor Shirley Adams believed the meeting was a missed opportunity for developers to learn more about the fee structures decided by council postamalgamation.
"It's such a vital area, particularly with the development servicing plans," Cr Adams said.
"We sent 80 letters to developers and builders so the officers could make a presentation and they could ask questions.
"We, of course, all fronted up and no-one turned up so I take that as a sign that everyone's happy with it."
"The former Grafton council was really a fairy godmother to the developers and builders because they didn't charge them for this development fee.
"Now we're one Clarence Valley council, it's going to be across the board ..."
Councillor Richie Williamson, who waited in the council chambers until it was apparent noone was turning up, was reluctant to read anything into the no show.
"You can take what you want out of the no show," he said.
"They're either happy with the changes or were expecting them.
"Community input and developer input is crucial at the moment because council is going through a stage of developing policies that effect everybody.
"All I can do, mate, is encourage everyone involved in the process, whether it's developers, ratepayers or groups that use a facility, to come along and put their two bobs worth in."
Councillors will no doubt be hoping for a more enthusiastic response to the public meetings in Grafton and Maclean planned for next week to discuss council's new water and sewerage charges.