CVC bends to developers


INTENSE debate in the Clarence Valley Council chambers yesterday ended with a victory for proponents of smaller lots within the controversial West Yamba development.

The minimum lot size and environmental protection zones for the development were dramatically reduced after the Council voted to amend the planning department's recommendations.

The changes, passed with a margin of just one vote, saw the minimum lot size of 8000m2 reduced to 5000m2 and riparian or 'buffer' zone reduced from 100 to 60 metres.

The motion means the Council will now apply to the Department of Planning to allow them to prepare a draft Local Environment Plan for the development.

As Cr Doug Mackenzie outlined reasons for adopting the CVC planning department's recommendation of larger lots, one objector in the public gallery, West Yamba resident Rex Tory, made his voice heard.

"The man's a joke," said Mr Tory. "Wake up. That's ridiculous."

Cr Mackenzie carried on unperturbed, saying the Council would be 'ignoring the will of the people' if they were to change the recommendations.

"The fact is that the staff have been working on this for 10 years and these are the recommendations they have made to us for specific reasons," he said.

"We have a clear reaction from the (2001) survey which was undertaken within Yamba (and) we supposedly live in a democracy but this is not a democracy. We are over-ruling the will of the people."

Mayor Ian Tiley and Councillors Joy Mathews and Terry Flanagan also rejected the changes, with Cr Flanagan citing concerns about flooding and the inability of the development to offer affordable housing solutions in the Valley.

"I don't want to be sitting on my verandah in 20 years time and have someone come up to me, telling me I was on a Council that approved this development and as a result they've lost everything in a flood," he said.

Despite their concerns, Cr Chris Gulaptis proposed three amendments; the smaller lot size, smaller riparian zone and an amendment of the draft plan to include another site.

"If we're going to talk about flooding then let's not approve anything ever again," Cr Gulaptis said.

"What we're talking about here is a minor amendment ... that I don't think is going to make a significant change to Yamba. They are minor changes to accommodate sensible planning issues."

Outside the meeting Mr Tory said he was pleased with the outcome.

"Yamba only gets a little of the flooding ? it's washwater and that's something that people don't understand," he said.

"This (development) will increase the drainage and will make the site better for the whole of Yamba."

But Cr Mackenzie said he was disappointed with the outcome.

"It seems this Council is putting coastal revenue before the environment and before what the majority of people who live on the coast want."

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