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Community tells Council:
‘We need more information’

by Cameron Outridge

A record Maleny public meeting on Saturday has called on Council to seek an extension of its conditional contract with landowner Stephen Porter to purchase his land.  The resolution also asks Council to enter into a Council-community partnership to determine the future use of the land.

Retain Maleny’s Character and SAVE Maleny say the community has been forced into making a hasty decision without proper consultation and without being given anywhere near enough facts.

They say Saturday’s resolution would provide more time for the community to work with Council to consider the issues and come up with a community-led solution, rather than a Council-imposed one.

On the other hand, the Golf Club and Cr Pauline Clayton are urging the community to fill in the survey forms directing Council to push ahead with the purchase of the land.  Cr Clayton, who could not attend the meeting, said Council would carefully consider the resolution. But she did not know whether an extension would be possible.   Cr Clayton said whether the land was bought by Council now or in the future the Community would decide how it was used.   But if the land was not purchased now it might be lost to the community forever.

“If Council doesn’t buy it now it’s all over red rover. I have it on good authority there are developers with cheques in their hands just waiting for this site to become available. And you can rest assured they will not be handing any part of it over to the community.

“The resolution from Saturday’s meeting will go back to Council. But the Council had already adopted a motion that there would be no further extensions and the seller has indicated there will be no more extensions. It’s gone on for 18 months and each time you have an extension it costs more money. Once land is purchased the community will continue to drive the project.

“This is the golden opportunity for Maleny to have a sustainable development, community open space, a golf course, different types of housing, and no connection to sewerage or town water. The best opportunity to do a model development.

“If Council buys the land the community will decide what to do and when. It will still be a community project Why not back the only opportunity we’ve got? Let’s argue about what’s going on the land when we’ve got hold of it.   “If we don’t purchase the land the deal’s off.

“It can be a model development. Here we have in one patch a block that’s perfect for a model sustainable development.

“It’s the perfect opportunity. This is the sort of thing Michael Berry has been talking about doing for years and now everyone’s running around like Chicken Little saying ‘the sky’s falling in’.”

She said it was good that the “stacked” meeting was at least addressed by Max Whitten from Maleny Golf Club.

“Max Whitten is a respected scientist with a good reputation. I think maybe we should be listening more to him.

“No one from the Golf CourseClub was invited to address the meeting. The President Max Whitten had to ask if he could attend. And even then it was five to one. The meeting was all designed to be anti-golf course and anti-Council. It was never designed to offer a democratic and free and open debate.”

She said it was significant that independent Town Planner Paul Summers had suggested at the meeting that community objectives could be best met if the land were in Council’s hands.‘Concept flouts Maleny’s Development Control Plan’

Journalist and author Terry Ryder told Maleny’s meeting on Saturday that the town risked losing its village atmosphere and green hills environment. “We must decide whether we go down the development route – or resist it,’’ he said. “Developers see unfulfilled growth potential and will move in, if we let them.

“Council’s plans for 370 acres of our green hills would double the area of our township and add greatly to our town population.”

Mr Ryder predicted five major social impacts.

• 1. Real estate prices will rise, making Maleny unaffordable for many. Golf course residential is premium real estate. Following our recent property boom (prices have risen 61% in 18 months) it will further lift property values (and rates).

• 2. Traffic is already a headache. Council has not delivered the requested traffic study. They have delivered, instead, a proposal that will create traffic and parking nightmares.

• 3. Tourism is the lifeblood of many Maleny businesses and job-seekers. Surveys show visitors come for the green hills and friendly village atmosphere. The Council proposal puts hundreds of houses on our green hills and makes us a bigger, more congested town.

4. Development pressures will be unleashed by the Council proposal. It creates a precedent by allowing houses on agriculture land, in defiance of our DCP. Maleny is up for grabs.

5. Population explosions have resulted in many former villages and country towns which chose the development route. Towns in the Blue Mountains and the Southern Highlands in NSW have jointly added 47,000 to their populations in 20 years. That’s Maleny’s future if it chooses the development option.

“This is not a community-led proposal. It has been handed down by the Council.

“Maleny is entitled to say no to it – and then work as a community to achieve an outcome we can all live with. Above all, we need more time to consider all the options and impacts.”

 

Above -  Map of the relevant area & Section of the large crowd attending the meeting

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.