Child centre gets the nod
THE public gallery at Clarence Valley Council’s environment, economic and community committee meeting on Tuesday night was packed.
And most of the people who crammed themselves into the Maclean chambers were there for one issue only – a proposed purpose-built child and special care centre for Gulmarrad.
The centre’s development application (DA) received 62 public submissions – 47 of those against the proposal.
The DA for the Boundary Rd centre states the business would be built to accommodate 60 children and up to 12 staff.
Before the committee members debated the merits of the centre, Gulmarrad resident Peter Adams took to the microphone to address the councillors.
Mr Adams – who said he represented the majority of those opposing the centre – said the grounds for refusing the DA were numerous and implored councillors to examine the issue with ‘common sense’.
He said safety issues, such as no footpaths or street lights in the Boundary Rd area, were of great concern.
Mr Adams said residents were worried the increased traffic – combined with no footpath or lights – could result in a local child being hit by a car, particularly after dark.
He also raised concerns about the area being prone to bushfires.
As well, Mr Adams told councillors the legislation governing the particular DA prevented businesses operating in the area.
However, councillors were later advised that child care centres were exempt from the legislation, provided the children they cared for were under six years of age and did not reside at the premises.
Mr Adams finished his deputation by telling councillors: “There’s more to the environment than the birds, the bees and the trees; there’s people as well.”
When the committee responded, Cr Richie Williamson told those gathered it wasn’t an easy job balancing the community’s concerns with the rights of developers, but it was a job that had to be done.
Cr Ian Tiley backed Cr Williamson and said a child care centre in Gulmarrad was badly needed.
“There’s a lot of people living out there with little kiddies and it’s a service that’s needed now and into the future,” he said.
“We can’t afford to take the moral high ground and then get wiped out in the Land and Environment Court.”
The committee voted four-to-one in favour of the proposal, with only Cr Sue Hughes against.
The matter will now go before a full meeting of council in Maclean next Tuesday.