BACK TO BASICS
Mayor’s town plan repeal is knocked back
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.