Councils take on Sartor
Cr Bennett, who is also president of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC), said that State Planning Minister Frank Sartor's proposal to alter NSW planning legislation could have a devastating effect on local communities.
Determined to fight the changes, which are set to go before the Parliament next month, councils from Kyogle to Byron Bay have joined a statewide community campaign called 'Keep it Local', and they want residents to get on board.
Cr Bennett encouraged ratepayers to get in touch with their State MPs to send a clear message to Mr Sartor that local developments should remain in community hands - and not with developers.
The councils are concerned the legislation will undermine local democracy by taking many of the checks and balances out of the planning system.
Major concerns local mayors have with the proposals include the loss of rights of local residents to object to many developments, as well as the increased powers being granted to private certifiers.
"You won't have any input on a renovation going up next door," Cr Bennett said.
"At least with councils you have a place to go and make objections."
Cr Bennett said the State Government also planned to ban councils from asking developers to pay a contribution towards community facilities, known as Section 94 contributions.
"It has been a long-standing practice that developers have been asked to contribute a fair share towards new facilities, such as aquatic centres, art galleries and playgrounds," he said.
"If councils lose Section 94, we will lose our ability to help provide for the community."