Lismore City Council General Manager Paul O'Sullivan (left) and Mayor Merv King check their watches on Tuesday night.
Lismore City Council General Manager Paul O'Sullivan (left) and Mayor Merv King check their watches on Tuesday night. The Northern Star

Lack of quorum delays McLeans Ridges debate

A PLANNED development at McLeans Ridges is set to become a key battleground in this year's Lismore City Council election with a group of councillors effectively blocking a decision on the issue.

The council failed to get a quorum at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday night, putting a rezoning application at Cameron Road in doubt.

The meeting was called to debate and vote on a rescission motion lodged by councillors David Tomlinson, Jenny Dowell and Vanessa Ekins after the council backed the rezoning in a six-four vote last week.

However, none of the councillors behind the rescission motion turned up at Tuesday's meeting, with councillors Ros Irwin, Frank Swientek and Graham Meineke also absent.

The lack of councillors forced Mayor Merv King to reschedule the meeting for next Tuesday, but a similar list of absentees could mean the issue is deferred until August.

If that happens, councillors opposing the rezoning will argue the council cannot make a decision on the controversial issue because it would by then have moved into 'caretaker mode' ahead of the September elections.

NSW Department of Local Government Deputy Director-General Ross Woodward said the council would be able to vote on the rezoning in August, but he urged caution.

"Councils should be cautious not to bind future councils to decisions they have taken," he said.

"Council certainly has the discretion to consider it, but should be cautious in making decisions on matters that are controversial in the community."

Cr Irwin said yesterday she did not know if she would be at next week's rescheduled meeting.

However, she said the council should not make major decisions in the last months of its term.

Cr Jenny Dowell also indicated she may not be available for next week's meeting, and said she was not comfortable with making a decision so close to the election.

"Rezoning is one of most important decisions a council can make, up there with appointing a general manager, and councils have been asked not to make those kinds of decisions," she said.

If the issue is delayed until after the election, the Department of Local Government's meeting notes indicate that the new council has the authority to vote on a rescission motion that had been put to the previous council.


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