Lots of things going on in our fun-filled Byron Shire Council (BSC) chambers. Every now and then it is worthwhile to keep abreast of what is going on in the Tucker Box. Before launching into the issues, just a reminder that our elected officials do a hard and complex job. It is very easy to criticise and find fault and it can be a thankless task. Criticising is easy, making things happen is hard.
Roundhouse Site sale
The controversial sale of the Roundhouse site in North Ocean Shores has given the Council some money (round cheer of applause!). Since the nearly $3M of funds from the sale is community money, the BSC is asking us how we think it should best be spent. You are invited to offer your opinion on priorities and offer new ideas. Just go to the BSC website (google: North Byron infrastructure funding). Some would say “roads, roads, roads”, and might be happy to know that some monies have already been allocated to Kolora Way and also to sports fields. Have your say!
The Rural Land Use Strategy
A controversial issue is the Draft Rural Land Use Strategy which is currently on public exhibition. This is a very vexed question for both sides of the political divide as council is struggling with how to maintain our rural and agricultural land but still manage sensible development. The demand for the tree-changer dream of a few acres in the bush with good views remains strong. However the option to just keep chopping up our farms and paddocks into ever smaller blocks is no longer viable or desired.
Council staff have selected some areas in the shire which they believe will be suitable for potential development. This involves two options, one is “Future Rural Lifestyle Living” which suggest small acreage Community Title or freehold blocks. They are looking at Main Arm, The Pocket, McAuley’s Lane Mycocum, Wilsons Creek/Alidenes Road. The other is “Future Urban Residential” (higher density) being considered at North Mullumbimby (Coolamon Scenic and Dudgeons Road), plus The Saddle Road, more in-fill at Ewingsdale and South Skinners Shoot.
Either way if you are keen or opposed to this development don’t get too flustered. Word on the street is that Council is a long way from handling the flack, complexity or workload required to get anything done in this area. Why are they bothering you may well ask? It is important for Council put these things out well in advance to promote community consultation. Also, most people are not aware that every shire council is obligated to release new land developments at some time in order to receive state funding. BSC is consistently below target in this area but are still required to go through the motions.
Holiday Letting Solution
The other issue that has raised a lot of hackles and hot air has been holiday letting. I have covered this a bit in previous posts but this time it does look like Council has managed to balance the many competing forces and found a workable solution to this one.
A quick outline of the proposal is: if you have 3 bedrooms or less and let it for less than 90 days a year, you’ll be allowed to HL if you register the property with Council. If you have more than three bedrooms and/or want to rent out for more than 90 days, you’ll need a DA approval. The penalty for bad operators is that if you have 2 complaints against you in one year, you can no longer holiday let your property.
Belongil Rock Wall
WWIII level drama has been created by this one – the CZMP or draft Coastal Zone Management Plan. Originally, the idea of “Planned Retreat” – whereby owners of beachfront homes built after 1988 where obligated to dismantle and retreat when the inevitable erosion threatened – was a good idea and seemed sensible. Unfortunately, like sand in the hour glass of time, things change and get more messy.
Sadly, the complex issues that have surfaced around this solution has not been adequately unpacked by our local media. It may benefit some reades to have some clarification on why the majority counsellors look like reversing on planned retreat:
– Independent legal opinion, as well as Council’s own advice, suggest that Belongil landowners will win any court case against Council unless the groin, car park and swimming pool at the north end of Jonson Street are removed. Council has an obligation to protect ratepayer assets and not go to court on unwinnable issues.
– Public perception is that Council is using community funds to protect private property and this is not completely accurate. 70% of the proposed rock wall will link existing walls and mainly protect Council owned public infrastructure and assets – namely five freehold titles easily worth over $5M.
– Yes, the rock wall will possibly minimise public beach amenity but so will the erosion. It takes a long time to rebuild a beach. The best solution to this problem is top make a false reef but that is dificult to get through in a marine park.
Council election is due for September. More about that in later newsletters.