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Clarence Valley News

Councillors and staff at odds over flood plain development

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Flooding in Shores Dr, Yamba flood plain development.

Councillors and staff at odds over flood plain development

 

By Tim Howard

Clarence Valley Council has found itself offering conflicting information to a State Government planning body meeting this week to deal with a 284-dwelling development in West Yamba.

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A combination of red tape and delays in providing information to the Northern Region Planning Panel has meant council staff have provided a recommendation to the panel to approve the development.

But at the May 28 ordinary council meeting councillors voted 5-2 to not approve the development because of serious non-compliance issues detailed in an attachment to the report in the council business paper.

At the council meeting council’s director environment and planning Adam Cameron revealed council staff were required to submit the staff recommendation to the planning panel before councillors could see it.

This had led to the councillors seeing a staff assessment made 18 months ago, which included a long list of non-compliances.

Mr Cameron said the staff had only submitted the most up to date assessment to the NRPP on the morning of the council meeting.

He said there was nothing to stop the council staff and councillors making differing submissions to the NRPP.

“An elected council may make a submission on a development application to be determined by the panel up to seven days before the panel meeting and may speak to the to the submission at the public determination meeting,” Mr Cameron said.

The unusual regulations around planning panel operation created this situation.

When a development of regional significance comes to a planning panel, effectively council staff work for the planning panel and its rules forbid sharing that work, even with the councillors who effectively are their employers.

Mr Cameron confirmed this to the meeting.

“The council resolution and the officer assessment report are two different things,” he said.

“The officer assessment report is undertaken independent of the elected body in accordance with the planning panel operating procedures.”

Cr Greg Clancy moved the council make a submission to the NRPP when it met on June 11 to not support the 284-lot sub-division.

The applicant for the development is Garrard Building Pty Ltd acting for the owner, Kahuna No.1 Pty Ltd.

Cr Clancy said the submission to not approve was a “no brainer” due to the number and seriousness of the non-compliance issues raised in the staff’s preliminary assessment.

“These are serious non-compliances and omissions,” Cr Clancy said.

“And I think the assessment briefing report which is available to us is what we have to take as our view of the planning issues in relation to this.

“We can’t see the report to the planning panel till after the planning panel.”

Cr Clancy then presented an extensive list of non-compliance issues, which were listed in Attachment A to the report to council.

The motion’s seconder, Cr Bill Day, said his concerns were the impacts on roads, parking and infrastructure and dramatic increases in population and numbers of motor vehicles using local roads.

Cr Karen Toms agreed the list looked damning, but said the staff report to the panel could well contain measure the developer had taken to fix them.

“I feel that without actually knowing what the assessment is from our professional staff, that we are not prepared to support a motion without actually seeing how they’ve addressed those issues,” she said.

“And we can’t do that yet because that’s how it works with the planning panel.”

Cr Steve Pickering spoke in support of not approving the development.

He has been a critic of the NRPP “taking over” from council in planning matters and has put up a notice of motion calling for the NRPP structure to change to allow councillors to comment on matters before it.

After the meeting Cr Pickering said the current structure disempowered councillors and made them feel like they weren’t in a position to make a decision on these sort of developments.

Outside of council other groups were also preparing submission against the development, which has attracted 330 submission from the public.

Yamba Community Action Network was one of the groups making a submission, with its secretary Lynne Cairns addressing the panel.

Ahead of the June 11 hearing she said one of YambaCAN’s key concerns was providing adequate evacuation for residents during floods.

“Evacuation plans rely on using Yamba Rd to get to the evacuation centre in Yamba Bolo and we know the road was cut for long periods during the February March 2022 flooding,” she said.

“And to get to Yamba Rd people would have to use Carrs Dr, Golding St and other roads that were also flooded for long periods.”

She said the amount of fill, up to three metres in some instances, meant homes built on these mounds became islands.

“People who get caught there or decide to stay will need to be supplied and it will mean extra work for SES and other emergency service carrying food or medical supplies or evacuating people.”

Greens MLC Sue Higginson will also make a submission to the panel and Dr Greg Clancy, will address the panel for the Clarence Environment Centre.

 

For more local Clarence Valley news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

Clarence Valley Country Muster

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Clarence Valley Country Muster

Clarence Valley Country Muster

 

If you are missing the country sounds from Tamworth, fret not, as the Clarence Valley Country Muster is just around the corner.

Expanded from two days to four, the event will start on July 25th and go to July 28th at 11 Coulters Lane, Ulmarra, near Grafton.

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You will enjoy artists such as Jade Hurley, John, Lloyd, Jack Watson, Lindsay Waddington and Jamie Davis.

Special guest artists, Paul Ricketts, Winner of the Thornton Young Award and Nay McAplin, Winner of the Walk Ups in July, will also make an appearance.

Your comperes for the main stage will be Terry Gordon OAM and Ken ‘Chainsaw’ Lindsay.

And bring those nerves with you, as from 10.30am on Thursday, aspiring artists can take their turn on the microphone, with John Lloyd hosting the walk-ups.

All acts will be vying for a gig at next July’s event.

Now is the time to grab a group of friends or family members and book your spot by heading to their website www.cvcmuster.com.au or calling Wendy Gordon on 0432 741947.

Gates open for early arrival at the muster site on Tuesday, July 23.

For $120 per person, you can enjoy a full week of camping, camaraderie and entertainment at one of the best value-for-money festivals in the Clarence Valley.

Check out is Tuesday, July 30.

If you have a fire pit, bring it along as wood will be supplied.

There will be songs around the campfire, best dressed Christmas and party games and a big finale on the Sunday.

 

For more local Clarence Valley news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

NSW BUDGET: NOTHING FOR RICHMOND AND CLARENCE VALLEYS COST OF LIVING CRISIS, BUT SOME WINS

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NSW BUDGET Cost of Living

NSW BUDGET: NOTHING FOR RICHMOND AND CLARENCE VALLEYS COST OF LIVING CRISIS, BUT SOME WINS

 

The NSW Labor Government’s 18 June Budget does nothing to alleviate the growing cost of living problems in the Richmond and Clarence Valleys, although there is some good news for the region, according to Clarence Nationals MP Richie Williamson.

“Everywhere I go, every local I talk to, they all say the same thing: we’re struggling with rising costs – why isn’t the Government helping?” Mr Williamson said.

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Mr Williamson said that he was all for working cooperatively with the Government, but there was mounting evidence Sydney Labor is “out of town, out of touch and the budget is out of control”.

“Calls to reinstate the $250 fuel card for regional seniors, students and apprentices have fallen on deaf ears, but Sydney seniors now enjoy $2-a-day Gold Passes on Sydney’s massive and massively subsidised public transport system as well as toll relief for Sydneysiders,” Mr Williamson said.

“Calls to save the Ulmarra ferry from Labor’s axe met a similar fate, at the same time as Labor is buying a fleet of new ferries for Sydney and took over another Sydney ferry service that has lower patronage than Ulmarra to Southgate.”

Mr Williamson did acknowledge the Government’s ongoing funding of the previous Liberals and Nationals Government’s Grafton Base Hospital rebuild, the allocation of $6.2m in the fight against White Spot disease in local rivers as well as a “welcome” $90m boost for the Resilient Homes Program, following the 2022 floods.

“These are crumbs compared to what Labor is lavishing on its Sydney heartland,” Mr Williamson cautioned.

“The Richmond and Clarence Valleys provide the timber for Sydney homes, the beef for Sydney dinners as well as the sugar and milk for Sydney cappuccinos.

“That needs to be acknowledged and we deserve our fair share,” Mr Williamson concluded.”

 

For more Richmond Valley news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

At last. Shirley Adams gets her Way

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Shirley Adams Way Sign

At last. Shirley Adams gets her Way

 

By Tim Howard

A jarring anomaly that has irked Clarence Valley residents from the moment it was first unveiled is about to be rectified.

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Next month the name of the road that crosses the Balun Bindarray Bridge in Grafton will be changed from Shirley Way to Shirley Adams Way, finally giving correct recognition of the first female mayor of Grafton and a community champion.

Since November 2022 the section or road has been signposted as Shirley Way, setting off protests from every level of the community.

It has taken concerted efforts from Mrs Adam’s husband John, daughter Virginia, Clarence MP Richie Williamson and the Clarence Valley Council to get naming authority the Geographical Names Board to accept the community’s wishes.

The Adams family requested the approaches be renamed “Shirley Adams Way” to properly recognise Shirley Adams and ensure her memory lives on.

But the board refused the original request to use Mrs Adams full name because it had only recently introduced a ruling banning two word names because of the risk of confusion when directing emergency services units to specific addresses.

Since coming to office in March 2023, the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison kickstarted a special process to allow for Shirley Way to be renamed Shirley Adams Way, in line with the family’s request.

After a public consultation took place earlier this year, Minister Aitchison last week approved the change in name and Shirley Adams Way will be the new name of the road from late July.

The minister said Ms Adams was the first female mayor of the then Grafton City Council, a former Jacaranda Queen, Jacaranda Festival President in 1976 and 1977, a Jacaranda Festival life member and was deeply involved in NSW Girl Guides, the United Hospital Auxiliary, Meals on Wheels, Clarence River Historical Society, Country Women’s Association, and many other organisations.

She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 1989.

“Last week I was pleased to approve the renaming of Shirley Way in Grafton to Shirley Adams Way,” Minister Aitchison said.

“This is a fitting tribute to Shirley Adams OAM who served as Grafton’s first female mayor and was also the first woman to lead the Country Mayor’s Association of NSW.

“In recognition of her services to local government and the Girl Guide Movement, Ms Adams also received a medal in the Order of Australia (OAM).”

Former Grafton Mayor Shirley Adams, with her husband John Adams

Former Grafton Mayor Shirley Adams, who died in June 2020, with her husband John Adams. Mr Adams has lobbied the government tirelessly for the name change on the bridge approaches.

The Minister said renaming the road was something she had supported since it first came to her attention.

“To honour Shirley’s legacy, it’s only right we rename this road, she said. “It’s come after years of campaigning and advocacy and is a great win for Shirley’s family and the broader Clarence Valley community.

“Everyone has always wanted the road to be renamed Shirley Adams Way and I am pleased that the NSW Labor Government has been able to make this happen.”

Ms Aitchison said the number of submissions calling for the change had been “overwhelming”.

“Given this and the special place Shirley Adams holds in the hearts of Clarence Valley community, I felt renaming the road to Shirley Adams Way was a simple, common sense way to honour the memory and legacy of a trailblazing woman,” she said.

“I am in awe of Shirley’s service to the Grafton and Clarence Valley communities.

“In coming weeks Transport for NSW will install new signage to mark the changing of the road name and the team will work with relevant organisations to notify them of the change.”

The minister has also reached out to the Adams family to notify them of the impending changes.

“I’ve spoken to Shirley’s daughter Virginia and she is just thrilled, she said.

“I’m looking forward to visiting Grafton to meet with Shirley’s family and friends to celebrate the renaming of the road when the new signs go up.

There has been bi-partisan support for the change, with the Minister acknowledging the work of Mr Williamson.

“I want to thank Richie Williamson MP and the Clarence Valley Council for their ongoing advocacy,” she said.

Mr Williamson said the change “just makes sense”.

“The name Shirley Adams is synonymous not only in Grafton but across the Clarence Valley and it is a fitting tribute to a remarkable lady and a dear friend who was a staunch advocate not only for her local community, but in encouraging women’s participation in public life and decision making,” he said.

“Shirley had a burning desire to make Grafton a better place and had a genuine love for the people of the city.”

Mr Williamson said the family would be relieved that the right decision had finally been made.

“I know her husband John Adams OAM and family are incredibly proud as is the community of Shirley’s legacy,” he said.

“The renaming of the road is a fitting tribute in honour and recognition of her service to local government, the girl guide movement and the wider community, and I look forward to the road officially being renamed with her family in the very near future.”

 

For more local Grafton news, click here.

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