Main Arm wrestles with Sartor
By RACHEL AFFLICK
MAIN ARM Residents' Association president Judy MacDonald moved to the small village seven years ago and fell in love with its rural character.
Now she fears the whole culture of the area will be lost. New South Wales Planning Minister Frank Sartor has approved controversial development plans which would allow for up to 37 new dwellings in the area of the village.
Mr Sartor told residents, who have campaigned for years against the development, it would be unreasonable to refuse the application as developers had complied with the correct procedures.
The Minister made his decision after hearing first-hand the concerns of residents, and has called on Byron Shire Council to ensure any future rural settlements are in appropriate locations.
However, Ms MacDonald is extremely disappointed and saddened by Mr Sartor's decision and described the community consultation over the project as a sham.
"The Byron Rural Settlement Strategy says sustainable rural settlement cannot be imposed on the community," she said.
"It has failed."
Ms MacDonald said residents were concerned the rezoning for 37 houses approved by Byron Shire Council, and now by Mr Sartor, could set a precedent and open the floodgates for further developments in the future.
"Once those houses are there, we're done for," she said.
Some residents have not ruled out the possibility of pursuing legal action.
"We will continue to do what we can ... to protect other hinterland communities from the same fate," Ms MacDonald said.