September 25th 2006
Locals seek security from planning changes
Security in the knowledge that your home, street or suburb is safe from arbitrary changes to the City Plan - which could allow previously unplanned and property value-lowering uses such as industrial precincts to appear in the neighbourhood - is emerging as a key concern for Island residents fighting Townsville City Council's (TCC) attempts to amend the City Plan over land the Council compulsorily purchased at the back of Picnic Bay in 2000.
Picnic Bay resident Peter Jones, who is part of a group of residents: Friends of Picnic and Cockle Bay, challenging TCC in court over its attempts to permit a concrete batching plant to be built on the land, told magnetictimes.com, "It is a matter of people having confidence and certainty in the existing planning scheme. Given the pressures on Magnetic Island at present this is particularly important. People have a right to feel secure in light that changes won't take place without extremely solid justification. In this case it is over bushland TCC compulsorily purchased for 'sewerage purposes' which they never used it for, but now want to change to 'Core Industry'".
Townsville City Council has given public notification that it intends to amend the Town Planning Scheme to allow industrial land use on the block of land that lies between the Golf Course and the Sewerage Treatment Works on West Point Road. Written public submissions over the amendment are presently being sought during the consultation period which finishes on October 20.
One of the watercourses which cross the block
Such an opportunity to change the new City Plan - upon which the ink is barely dry (signed off in 2005) - would see Council splitting the land into two halves with one side set aside as "green space" but the remainder as, "Core Industry".
If TCC succeeds, Peter Jones is concerned the amendment may allow TCC to circumvent the court's final ruling over the appropriateness of a concrete batching plant in what is presently a, "Traditional Residential" precinct. Peter Jones believes that the Friends have a very strong legal case and sees TCC's attempt to amend the City Plan as, "Shifting the goal posts".
"And if they can do this so easily for land they never used for the reasons they compulsorily purchased it for, how can residents feel secure the same or worse won't happen elsewhere? Such perceived flexibility might well suite developers but I think residents should be worried." said Peter Jones.
Since the plan was first mooted magnetictimes.com has reported extensively on the issue in stories including: Council's concrete rumble (read here); Concrete plant approval: "Outrageous"(read here); Protest as TCC won't explain concrete plant decision (read here); Greens seek batching plant inquiry (read here); Reynolds happy to take up concrete concerns (read here); In an online poll we conducted from August 2005, 90% of magnetictimes.com readers polled were against the rezoning.
Apart from the insecurity the Friend's feel at the apparent ease by which the City Plan can be changed by TCC, they are also worried that by allowing industrial activity on this site will have a range of negative effects and create serious problems in the Bay and across the Island.
In a printed sheet circulating on Magnetic Island the Friends claim, "There will certainly be a dramatic increase in vehicle traffic, both in Picnic Bay and across the hill from other Bays, including large increases in truck movements.
"Picnic Bay is a quiet, residential area totally unsuited to this sort of traffic.Furthermore, many of the roads that lead to the proposed industrial area are narrow, winding and unsuited to increased traffic, especially trucks.
"It is also questionable whether further industrial land is needed on the Island at all. There is already an area of land in Kelly St, Nelly Bay that is zoned for industrial use. This location is central to all Bays and closer to the areas where further development is likely to occur.
Residents are also concerned about the environmental effects. The block of land in question is one of the last undeveloped lowland forest areas on the Island and is adjacent to an important wetland area. Lowland forests on Magnetic Island are not protected by inclusion in the National Park and Island-based ecologists have identified a number of plants and animals thought to inhabit the area which are classified as rare and threatened such as a legless lizard, the single-striped delma. Read Bush valley rezoned for industry (read here).
The rare and threatened single striped delma (legless lizard) was photographed on the site by Island zoologist, Eric Vanderduys.
According to the group, "While many people would like to see the site retained as a nature conservation area, residential development would be far preferable to industrial use, with the noise, dust, traffic and pollution that this would bring. Picnic Bay is not the right spot for a new industrial estate. The Council should abide by its own rules and stick to the existing town planning scheme. Picnic Bay should remain a quiet residential area where all Island residents are able to enjoy the peace and quite that characterises this Bay".
Last year Magnetic Island's representative on Council, Cr Jenny Hill, told magnetictimes.com that the decision to identify additional industrial land on the Island was in response to resident's requests for a dedicated area for running small businesses, such as lawn mower repairs or furniture making, as well as a space where transport operators and owners of large plant and equipment such as trucks and cranes could park their vehicles without disturbing neighbours.
Cr Hill was, however, not prepared to comment on whether this would also include a concrete batching plant, as the legal proceeding was continuing. According to the New City Plan, an "Inconsistent use" within a "Core Industry" does not include concrete batching plants.
The Friends are now urging residents to make submissions over the amendment to the planning scheme on this land.
This wetland lies on the boundary receives
much of its run-off from the land
A copy of the proposed amendments to the Planning Scheme are available for inspection and purchase at Townsville City Council's Planning and Development Service's Counter, 2nd floor, Administration Building 103 Walker Street.
To be accepted, all submissions must:
(1) be in writing and signed by each person making the submission. (Email and faxed submissions must be followed by a signed hard copy);
(2) state the name and mailing address of each person who made the submission;
(3) state the grounds of the submission and the facts and circumstances relied on in support of the grounds; and
(4) be addressed to Mr Brian Guthrie, Chief Executive Officer, Townsville City Council, PO Box1268, Townsville Qld 4810 and delivered on or before the 20th of October, 2006.
To correctly identify the land in submissions reference should be made to: Lot 2 RP 721497, 11-63 West Point Road
Article and photos (except single-striped delma) George Hirst
To make a comment see below