Mayor’s town plan re­peal is knocked back

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

THERE’S an old say­ing that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” and that’s ef­fec­tively what hap­pened to the re­gion’s town plan at yes­ter­day’s meet­ing of Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil in Bowen.

Prior to Christ­mas, mayor Jen­nifer Whit­ney set out to re­peal a mo­tion pre­sented by deputy mayor An­drew Will­cox to lower some of the pro­posed build­ing heights in Air­lie Beach and take that to com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion for 30 busi­ness days.

At yes­ter­day’s meet­ing in Bowen Cr Whit­ney pro­posed a new and sim­i­lar mo­tion – in fact the only dif­fer­ence for Air­lie Beach was for the build­ing heights around Water­son Way to in­crease from six storeys to eight.

Cr Whit­ney said the pri­mary rea­son for her re­peal was “any­one knows peo­ple go on hol­i­days in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary and it is not the ap­pro­pri­ate time for go­ing out (to com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion).”

Cr Will­cox dis­agreed, say­ing “that’s a great story but it just isn’t true”.

“The real story in here is chang­ing it (Water­son Way), from six storeys which went through 5/2, (to eight),” he said.

Cr Whit­ney ar­gued, “(but) you don’t in your cur­rent res­o­lu­tion have any­thing to con­sult about – be­cause (it’s) the ex­ist­ing town plan”, adding “what op­por­tu­nity are you af­ford­ing the com­mu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in chang­ing if there is noth­ing to change?”

Cr Whit­ney said the coun­cil town plan­ning team was charged with mov­ing for­ward on growth and at­tract­ing job de­vel­op­ment and she noted the com­mu­nity hadn’t even seen the depart­ment’s amended scheme since re­ceiv­ing 693 ob­jec­tions.

Cr Jan Clifford sup­ported the mayor’s mo­tion say­ing Water­son Way was “al­ready two storeys below the road” at ground level.

“But, let’s take it back out, be­cause no-one’s ever been asked about this – it’s al­ways been about 12 storeys and all the other scut­tle­butt that’s been go­ing around. You want pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion I’m happy with (that),” she said.

“My con­cern is at the mo­ment we’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an ab­so­lute boom in tourism... but that’s not go­ing to last and I’m ter­ri­bly wor­ried that in a one-in­dus­try town, when that bub­ble bursts if we don’t have new (of­fer­ings, ex­pe­ri­ences and ac­com­mo­da­tion), close the doors, turn off the lights.”

Cr Peter Ra­m­age said he felt “ev­ery­one’s just about had enough of (this)”.

“It’s just about time to put it to bed.”

He said there was still al­ways the pro­vi­sion within the town plan for de­vel­op­ers to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tions for in­creased heights to be as­sessed on their in­di­vid­ual mer­its.

Cr Whit­ney’s mo­tion was de­feated by four votes to three with Cr’s Will­cox, Ra­m­age, Atkin­son and Clark vot­ing it down.

Coun­cil’s act­ing CEO Barry Omund­son con­firmed the orig­i­nal mo­tion put for­ward by Cr Will­cox on De­cem­ber 9 now stood, with the process of com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion to be ar­ranged and taken to a coun­cil briefing ses­sion next week.

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