Biggest council moments of 2019
Council bears the cost of scar tree destruction after posting public notice admitting guilt
CLARENCE Valley Council has posted a public notice acknowledgingits guilt "in causing harm to a tree that it knew as an Aboriginal object protected by law" on social media and its website.
As per the Land and Environment Court of NSW's prosecution orders handed down to Council, the organisation published a public notice on its Facebook page and its website's home page.
The total cost reported over the incidentis $501,237.60. This is broken down into $348,166 for the penalty and the costs, $16,705.28 for advertising, and $23,099.36 for the restorative justice conference.
Debate over helium balloons floats on for days
HELIUM filled balloons might be on the way out on councilland in the Clarence Valley, but they'll still have a place in the region's tourist literature.
Clarence Valley councillors voted to develop a policy to allow council to ban the sale and release of helium filled balloons from its land, but when it came to the next item of business, a motion calling for the removal of the flying balloons-inspired Clarence Valley tourism logo, they baulked.
Sewage Treatment works budget overrun possibly biggest in council history
WITH little fanfare, a budget overrun of $2 million was discussed at Clarence ValleyCouncil's corporate governance and works committee meeting.
The huge overspend on the rehabilitation of the former sewage treatment plant sites at Maclean, Townsend and Ilarwill was the result of a change in Environment Protection Authority guidelines on the reuse of human waste or "bio-solids".
Council Water Cycle manager Greg Mashiah explained the State Government "moved the goalposts" when sampling for the chemical PFAS was required midway through the contract with Ledonne Constructions, tasked with cleaning up the sites.
Work completed on Jacaranda Park in time for Christmas
Jacaranda Park opened to the public and a throng of excitable children launched themselves onto the vast array of play equipment straight away.
The project was not without controversy as some questioned the need to spend so much money on a park.
An initial concept for the playground posted on the council Facebook page sparked outrage.
Clarence Valley council responded to concernsover cost, inclusiveness and security at the new Jacaranda Park playground.
Some residents were horrified by the huge cash splash, calling it ludicrous for what should be a simple venture.
Grafton riverfront precinct gets green light and cash money
AFTER almost 10 years since the original concept plans were drawn up , a commitment was made to fund construction of the Grafton Riverfront Precinct.
Nationals candidate for the seat of Page, Kevin Hogan, announced the funding of $6.5 million for a major revitalisation of the Grafton riverfront.
"This is for the local community and will completely transform the riverfront," he said.
"The main focus area will be the 3km stretch of waterfront extending from Queen St in the city to the Grafton Bridge."
The plan was assured when just days later the Labor candidate for Page, Patrick Deegan announced and identical commitment.
The announcement highlighted the importance of having "shovel ready" plans on the shelf ready to be picked up by state and federal governments.
Ulmarra river front gets $1 million
After the Ulmarra Riverside and Village Precinct plan was put out for community consultation, the response had been overwhelmingly positive.
As it is headed to council next week for approval, Cr Karen Toms focused her attention on Bailey Park.
The upgrade to the riverfront park was the logical next step and Cr Toms said the leftover Section 94A contributions from the Clarence Correctional Centre should be used to get it going.
Councillors disobey GIPA Act guidelines to ward off "trenchcoat-wearing weirdos"
COUNCILLORS have voted to defy guidelines designed to increase political transparency in a move one councillor labelled "provocative".
Staff and councillors' Disclosure of Interests Returns has again become a topic of fierce debate, with Clarence Valley Council voting to ignore guidelines set out under the Government information (Public Access) Act.
The returns are available for viewing by appointment at the Grafton and Maclean offices, but the GIPA Act and GIPA Regulation states the returns needed to be disclosed on the website of each local council.
Cr Jason Kingsley amended the officer recommendation to ensure neither councillors or designated staff would have their returns posted online.
"Like it or not there are some trench-coat-wearing weirdos out there who have nothing better to do with their time than come up with conspiracy theories to defame us.
A short time later the Information Commissioner issued a 'please explain' to the council and the issue was set to be discussed further in 2020 after councillors passed on an opportunity to revise their decision.
Manufactured housing estates grow in popularity across the Lower Clarence
A PROPOSED residential development in Yamba will go aheaddespite some environmental concerns.
The development of 200 manufactured homes on Carrs Drive by Gold Coast developer Mavid would include a bowling green, pool and community centre.
In March, Peter Childs of Mavid Developments explained affordability was important and the development would enable older people to downsize, freeing up other houses for young families.
A local resident in nearby Gulmarrad was perplexed over a seperate proposal to build 255 manufactured homes.
A development application has been lodged for Glencoe Lifestyle Resort a 255-site manufactured housing estate near the corner of Brooms Head road and Sheehans Lane and Michael Casey questioned why it would be built in a semirural area.
"This is some kind of dog-box estate. It is not appropriate and is like shoving a factory in the middle of Grafton," he said.
It is estimated to cost in excess of $12 million dollars and feature 255 sites with an average size of 396 square metres.
The plans for the site include a tennis court, bowling green, pool, mens shed, club house and community gardens and the applications stated it was aimed at "residents wishing to downsize and be part of an active lifestyle village."
The end of an era as one pool closes and another gets a reprieve
THE last rites for the Ulmarra Pool were read outin the Clarence Valley Council's Grafton chambers.
And it happened without two of the councillors supporting the pool's closure.
The council has encountered passionate opposition to its plans to close the community pool at Ulmarra since it first announced its closure in 2016.
The latest proposal from the community group Ulmarra Village Incorporated won support from a number of councillors including Cr Peter Ellem, who proposed a five-point motion to allow the pool to re-open.
Up-river, the Glenreagh community will get to keep its swimming pool and will not have to take responsibility for its running and upkeep.
Clarence Valley Council voted unanimously to support a motion from Cr Karen Toms to overturn a proposal to seek a private pool operator to run the pool. Instead, Cr Toms asked councillors to support a proposal for council to stump up $65,000 to operate the pool as well as install a solar electricity system to reduce power costs.
Cr Toms also commended the Glenreagh Progress Association for providing the council with a plan for it to operate the pool.
But Cr Toms said the council could not accept it because safety measures did not meet State Government guidelines.
The councillor said the Glenreagh pool was a different case to the Ulmarra pool, which the council voted to close at the meeting previous.
Maclean waterfront gets a makeover
FOR Lenore Parker, the McNaughton Pl boat ramp brings back memories of coming to school as an infant on the Ashby ferry.
"We'd walk up from Ashby, get the ferry and walk up to the schools from here," she said.
"This was a great spot … and it looks very different today but you can still visualise that ferry carrying the cars, trucks and people across."
The second stage of the Maclean Riverside Precinct was opened by Mayor Jim Simmons and Member for Page Kevin Hogan and Ms Parker and other members of the Yaegl community were a pivotal part in its development.
"There's a lot of stories told of the Scottish heritage in town with the poles but not many of the first people who walked here," she said.
Council responds to the bushfire emergency and starts the clean-up
CONTRACTORS are racking up a huge number of hours in a bid to reopen the Armidale Road - but the work is far from over.
Following an update noted at the previous council meeting, staff estimated there was 420km of roads affected by bushfire in the Clarence Valley with that figure not taking into account the damage in the northeast of the LGA.
Cr Jim Simmons outlined the next step in Clarence Valley Council's bushfire recovery effort which included a $16,500 payment to Nymboida Canoe Centre, a water replenishment scheme and the creation of a BlazeAid camp.
The water replenishment scheme would enable bushfire affected landholders across the LGA to access a one-off water delivery up to 7000 litres.
It is estimated that 7000 litres was equal to one month of normal household water supply at a cost of $180 per load, bringing the estimated expenditure to $60,000.
McIntyres lane sealed after decade-long campaign
After years of campaigning to have the road sealed, Clarence Valley Council announced the road was ready to go just in time for Christmas.
Long-time campaigner Denis Gordon was so happy with the finished product he felt compelled to alter his sign - which called on the council to fix the road - to something a little more festive.
"The job is done and I am very happy about it," he said.
"The workers, the engineers have done a very good job."
Mr Gordon, who had a long connection to the area, said he thought it "was never going to happen" and couldn't understand why there was not more enthusiasm for the project.
Council makes bold move to help affordable housing effort
Social housing has traditionally been the remit of State of Federal Governments, but Clarence Valley Council voted to "waive" the Section 64 funds of a multimillion-dollar development by Clarence Village Ltd. in South Grafton.
Section 64 funds relate to the provision of water and sewerage and council resolved to finance the $175,000 contribution from the Clarence Care and Support Reserve.
The project is by no means a done deal however, with the development of the 22 seniors affordable housing units dependent on Clarence Village securing over $3 million from the Federal Government's Building Better Regions Fund.
End of the line for Glenreagh Rail precinct dream
While the Glenreagh community could take heart from the council's decision to engage a consultant to conduct a risk assessment on the proposal by Glenreagh Rail and Preservation Society, councillor Richie Williamson said the project could become "the greatest hospital pass of all time".
In support of the motion to forge ahead with a risk assessment, Cr Williamson stressed the council would have to make a very "cautious and informed decision" and referred to the council report outlining Australian Rail and Track Corporation's stance on the plan.
"Not one of those dot points from what I can read is a win for the third party or council. Every one is a major win and offload for the ARTC," he said.
After receiving the report at a subsequent meeting, council opted not to enter into a lease arrangement with ARTC.
Council drops the water pressure to houses with unpaid bills
Water flow restrictors were installed at the homes of Clarence Valley owner occupiers who, despite repeated reminders, fail to pay for their water use.
Clarence Valley Council general manager Ashley Lindsay said consumers would be given plenty of opportunity to pay, but ultimately their water flow would be reduced if they didn't take up those opportunities.
A water supply is still available when flow restrictors are installed, but water pressure is greatly reduced.
Mr Lindsay said the devices would be removed when consumers paid their outstanding accounts.
"About 97 per cent of people do the right thing and pay on time, but they are effectively subsidising the three per cent who don't pay," he said.