Ballina is no Gold Coast
By DAWN COHEN
DEPUTY mayor John Felsch has called for a moratorium on development in the Ballina Shire.
Cr Felsch warned yesterday if development went uncapped, the shire would become a suburb of the Gold Coast.
He expressed concern about a number of areas facing development.
These included Chris Condon's North Angels Beach development, the old marina site at West Ballina, about 700 blocks in South Ballina with a proposed Bridge to Ballina Island and Doctor Peter Stewart's land at Skennars Head.
Dr Felsch's comments drew a stinging rebuke from Ballina mayor, Phil Silver.
"He has an obligation to bring his view to council, not talk to the newspapers," he said.
However, Cr Felsch was not deterred by his colleague's criticism. "If Doctor Stewart's land is turned into hundreds of residences, how will we tell the difference between Lennox Head and Ballina?" said Cr Felsch.
He believes community pressure will halt Gold Coast development and the overflow will come to Ballina.
"Big competitors will starve our small businesses," he said. "Ordinary people soon won't be able to afford to live or holiday in Ballina.
"We should cap development temporarily because we don't have enough water for a massive increase in population. And then, let residents talk out what they want. It is the only way to stop piecemeal development."
Yesterday mayor Phil Silver accused his deputy of speaking out of turn, adding he had overstepped the mark. Cr Silver does not believe a moratorium would solve any problems.
"If council matched the supply of land for development to the demand, growth would escalate and people would say there is too much development," he said.
"But if council does not match the supply, there is huge demand, and prices escalate."
Councillors Margaret Howes, Sharon Cadwallader and David Wright also do not believe there is a need for a cap on development on the whole of the shire.
They argue community consultations have already taken place particularly in Lennox Head.
Cr Howes accused John Felsch of being hypocritical.
"He voted for the Lennox Head Strategic Plan against the wishes of 600 residents who wanted development stopped for 10 years," she said.
Meanwhile, Doctor Stewart claims it is the council's fault he has to sell his Skennars Head land to developers.
"I can't afford to keep it as farm land, because council put my rates up to $1000 a week," he said.
"If they wanted a buffer zone, they should not have sold North Angels Beach."
Cr Felsch supports the River Bend development alongside Emmanuel Anglican College because he believes it provides affordable housing and is not high-rise.
He voted for the Tinkerbell development because people wanted a Big W, he said.