BATTLING THE BULLDOZERS
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
THE day the Bartos family moved into their Lismore Heights home, they discovered there were council plans to demolish it.
It was Anzac Day when Ted Bartos, his wife Leanne Ellis and their two daughters moved into their Ballina Road dream house.
They were unpacking their furniture when a neighbour ran over to them waving a letter from the Lismore City Council. "We went from feeling the biggest high to feeling as low as can be," Mr Bartos said.
The letter was to notify residents of the council's Section 94 plan a strategy which allows the council to collect funds from developers to pay for public works such as roads.
Part of the plan included developer funding for a new road linking Ballina Road and Woodlawn Avenue. The road is to start at the current Rous Road roundabout.
The council has proposed two routes for the road both of which would flatten the Stegbar commercial premises and one other house. The Bartos's house would be lost under 'option one' while a large chunk of their yard would go under 'option two.'
At their last meeting, councillors voted to defer a decision on the Section 94 plan until a workshop was held to discuss the proposed new link road.
However, Mr Bartos wants a rescission motion lodged to throw the whole proposal in the bin.
"Forcing people to sell their property and then having developer-funded bulldozers plough a road through it is morally bankrupt," he said.
"We won't be giving up a square centimetre of our property."
Council's strategic planner Bruce Blackford said the road was at least 10 years away, but had been a part of the council's Development Control Plan since before Mr Bartos bought his new home.
"When the Section 94 plans were exhibited, council wrote to all the people along the proposed route and all the people in Trinity Drive," Mr Blackford said.
"A letter certainly went to the previous owners of the Bartos property, but I can't know what the previous owners passed on to Mr Bartos."
Mr Bartos has accused the council of misleading his family because his wife had asked staff about plans for a new road before they bought their home.
"All they told us was that Ballina Road could one day be widened," he said.
"We were happy with that because we're 60m from Ballina Road. They didn't tell us anything about a new road."
Mr Blackford said the road was needed because a chunk of land near Trinity Drive, below Ballina Road, was due to be released for residential development after 2009.
He said more than 300 lots would eventually be created once the land was rezoned from 'investigation zone' to 'residential zone' then subdivided.
"It's one of the key land release areas in Lismore," Mr Blackford said.
"There are limited opportunities for residential growth in Lismore and if proper planning isn't put in place it will affect Lismore's growth potential and economy.
"The development couldn't proceed without access to Ballina Road."
Mr Blackford said the proposed routes were 'conceptual' at this stage and more detailed designs would be created later.