Council withdraws support for development near quarry
HOPES for more residential land on the Northern Rivers have been dashed after Richmond Valley councillors voted unanimously in favour of an existing quarry instead of a rural subdivision.
An unidentified owner of land at Piora at Casino has been asking Richmond Valley Council to rezone an area south of the Woodview Quarry since early 2004, minutes of a December council meeting showed.
Woodview Quarry, owned by the council, has a 1km buffer zone and a proposal for up to 30 rural residential land lots in the zone prompted concern from within the mineral resources branch of the NSW Department of Trade and Investment in 2013.
"Changes to land use which are incompatible with mineral exploration and mining can result in the loss to the community of valuable mineral resources," Cressida Gilmore, team leader of land use, wrote in a letter to council on behalf of the department at the time.
"The quarry which has been operating since approximately 1945 has produced a range of products for the region including material for roadbase applications, concrete and railway ballast."
Mineral resources branch staff classified the quarry as a state-significant resource in 2012, a status generally providing exemption of projects from environmental law.
Ms Gilmore noted the rezoning application allowed for land lots 500m from the quarry instead of the 1km stipulated by the department "due to the nature of extraction which requires blasting".
"Nor does the 500m distance from the active quarry face used acknowledge the possibility of extensions to the existing quarry in the future," she wrote.
Richmond Valley councillors voted to "conditionally support" rezoning three months after Ms Gilmore wrote her letter, and told the landowner to submit another four documents.
The landowner was supposed to provide assessments of noise, dust, vibration and traffic from the quarry as it was and as it could be in the future, as well as a "revised justification for the need for further rural-residential style development" outside of land already allocated by the council.
"Council has elected to support the applicant in extending the timeframe on a further two occasions to November 2, 2015, and then August 5, 2016," council minutes stated.
At a late August meeting last year, council representatives met with the landowner and a project backer, suggesting the subdivision be moved outside the buffer zone.
But this idea backfired when Essential Energy workers installed "big huge lines from the plateau on Tenterfield through the tablelands," said Angela Jones, the council's director of infrastructure and environment.
"That changed the ball game slightly."
"Assurances were given by those at the meeting that if they intended to pursue the matter they would advise council accordingly before October's end, and to date no further assurance or retraction of the proposal has been forthcoming," council minutes stated.
Councillors voted not to extend another deadline beyond December 24 and Damien Schappelle from planning and engineering consultants Newton Denny Schappelle said family concerns had prevented the landowner from pursuing the matter.