Council's big decisions of 2018
IT'S been a bit year at Clarence Valley Council, with the Special Rate Variation being approved, major developments causing turmoil in the community and enlivening our streets and reducing red tape for local businesses.
So here are just a few of the biggest stories of the year:
CLARENCE Valley Ratepayers will pay an extra 8 per cent a year in their base rates after IPART approved an application for a Special Rates Variation.
The IPART chair Dr Peter Boxall said the application to permanently increase rates by a cumulative 26 per cent over the next three years was 18.5 per cent above the assumed rate peg increase over the period.
Dr Boxal said the council's financial sustainability was identified as an issue in the 2015 Fit for the Future assessment, along with its ability to manage its infrastructure and services to the community.
- Cr Debrah Novak went into the council elections in 2016 saying she would not vote for a special rate variation and stuck to that until it was approved.
- Most other councillors voted for the variation, with Cr Jason Kingsley saying in the June meeting: "It hasn't just been something we've looked at over the last six months. For those critics who are out there, like I've said before, we've cut all the fat off the steak and if we cut any more off we will be cutting into the meal or the organisation. This affects the nine of us. We're all ratepayers."
HOW DOES ONE councillor want to deal with the alleged poisoned trees in Yamba?
While Clarence Valley Council's policy against tree vandalism instructs them to erect a 1.8m by 8m sign where alleged poisoned trees in South Head Park, Yamba, near Pippi Beach, were discovered by council workers, Cr Karen Toms said she's prefer visitors to the Clarence Valley didn't know about the vandalism.
"This is a very disturbing report before us and I hate the fact that someone is killing these beautiful trees," she said.
"I don't condone it but I don't see that erecting large sings that tell the world that we have criminal residents near by.
"I supported a similar thing for Flinders Park area... at least we don't have big ugly signs up (there) that we have vandals and criminals. I'm not into putting signs up."
A FORMER Clarence Valley mayor has publicly apologised for the removal of a culturally significant tree from a Grafton street, which has the potential to cost the Clarence Valley Council $1.1million.
At Tuesday's council meeting, Cr Richie Williamson unreservedly apologised to the Aboriginal community for the removal of a scar tree over a period from 2013 to 2016, when he was mayor.
The council was discussing a response to a Land and Environment Court case in which the council had pleaded guilty to removing the remains of a scar tree on the corner of Breimba and Dovedale streets in 2016.
- During the debate, Cr Williamson addressed the meeting to tell of his deep embarrassment on behalf of the council and personal and deep sadness at the actions that led to the removal of the tree. "I met with a number of Elders who were deeply, deeply hurt by the action of the council. I also recall it was around the time of NAIDOC Week and it was very sad for them and the hurt was clearly displayed on their faces."
- Council actions leave lasting scar
JAMES Creek Rd will be upgraded by Clarence Valley Council in preparation for the increase of 3-4000 cars per day when the developments slated for the road are complete.
While McIntyres Lane was originally looked at to upgrade, council staff and councillors said due to the new positioning of the Pacific Motorway, it was difficult to know what the future of the road would be.
James Creek Rd will be upgraded with the help of section 94 funding, which comes from developers.
Cr Richie Williamson said there were already big developments along James Creek Rd, and more likely in the future.
"It's within council's power tomorrow internally to do the work that is required, get the plan certified and then overtime pay the section 94 funds borrowed," he said.
A COMPROMISE is how Clarence Valley councillor Greg Clancy described his motion to limit four-wheel drive access to Brooms Head beach and Wooli beach.
After serious thought and discussions with other councillors, Cr Clancy proposed the motion that would allow fishermen and disabled people to continue to access the beaches, while limiting the access of the general public to help create a safer environment for the community.
"Arthur (Lysaught) says we shouldn't be the fun police, well is it isn't the fun police when you've got a responsibility to protect children and adults on the beach, is it the fun police to not want to see damage done to the beach," he said.
"In this motion we are allowing recreational and professional fishermen to access the beach and put their boats in.
"To let everyone else roar up and down the beach is just negligent."
WE NEED to get on with it - they were the words of former Clarence Valley Council mayor Richie Williamson when it came to crunch time on the new motion for the intersection treatment of Yamba Rd and Treelands Dr.
At the extraordinary meeting yesterday afternoon, councillors voted five-four to rescind the motion voted for at last week's council meeting to approve the traffic lights.
Armed with placards, a packed gallery heard Cr Karen Toms' new motion which would see a non-conforming roundabout adopted by council at an estimated cost of up to $500,000.
SOMEONE who knows exactly how effective the removal of red tape around footpath trading and advertising is Clarence Valley Council's director of corporate governance, Laura Black.
Before she came to work at the Clarence Valley last year she worked at the Greater City of Taree, which amalgamated into the Mid Coast Council in 2016.
"There are some similarities and differences between the situations at Grafton and Taree," she said.
"At Taree the highway went right down the main street. Here the highway doesn't actually go through town. That's a difference."