An aerial view showing the change in use of the sawmill over time.
An aerial view showing the change in use of the sawmill over time.

Neighbours spitting chips about sawmill DA backflip

CLARENCE Valley Council has "backflipped completely” with its recommendation to approve a development modification for a sawmill at the Pinnacles near Grafton, say neighbours.

In February, the council staff recommended against a proposed modification of a 1998 Copmanhurst Shire Council development application to allow the owners of the mill at 162 Coaldale Rd to significantly increase the mill's output and install new equipment.

The view of council staff in February was the modification was too great and would require a new DA.

In addition to increased output, the modification called for a woodchipper and 5000-litre diesel tank to be built on the site.

But the council meeting moved to allow the mill to continue operations at the level recommended in the 1998 DA while the mill proponents came up with a new proposal.

The modified application, which will go to Tuesday's council environment, planning and community meeting, carries a recommendation for approval.

Residents near the mill are outraged by the about-face.

A spokeswoman, Julie Hodges, said the report was a "complete backflip” on the first report to reject the mill's request and close it down immediately.

"He now recommends its complete approval to increase production, extend operating hours, install a woodchipper, legalise buildings and everything that they requested,” MsHodges said.

"Will council set a dangerous precedence by legalising an unlawful operation that has bypassed standard council procedures and regulations?

"The condition of the 1998 modification to complete roadworks, for safety reasons, is 20years late.”

Ms Hodges said residents of the Pinnacles had lodged multiple submissions against the proposed DA modification since April.

The owner of Raging Red Timbers, Jacob Page, said he was prepared to abide by all the conditions the council imposed on the mill to keep it operating.

"We're not going to do anything that goes against the conditions the council sets out for us,” Mr Page said.

"We won't be cutting as much timber as they said the first time, we're going to be putting up walls and barriers to cut down the noise, and we're going to improve the road access to the site.”

Mr Page said he wanted to be a good citizen in the area.

"We don't want to upset anyone,” he said. "I'm just doing this to make money for my family and for the people who work for me.”



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