Watching Byron Council go through its ongoing dramas is a like watching a couple having a domestic argument. It’s uncomfortable and unpleasant, but somehow intriguing. Will it resolve or turn ugly? Neither really happens but it just goes on and on.
Here is a quick synopsis of the big-ticket items on Council’s agenda ATM. Please keep in mind I have done no extensive research on these topics, no science or peer revue – just opinion, anecdote and gossip. But isn’t that where we all get our “facts” from when living in a post-truth world?
Brunswick Heads and Bangalow residents and businesses are manning the barricades to stop the introduction of paid parking. They see it as threat to shoppers who will not stay and fumble for change and storeowners will go broke. Apparently there are stats to back this up, but personally I am a fan of paid parking. Interacting with Byron town has become so much easier. I haven’t heard of businesses going broke. Council is a fan as well as it certainly needs the revenue.
A Gold Coast developer, Robert Badalotti, bought the South Byron Plaza site some years ago. The shopping complex, Mercato on Jonson Street is now finished and there is a DA in council for the next part – where the current Woolworths is. Plans are in for a 162 room hotel with a roof top bar and pool.
The floor ratio and height limit is exceeding in the present plans. How it works is a developer puts in a gambit bit and then there is a negotiation and council gives a bit and the developer gives a bit. The Mercato shopping complex was negotiated down from something much worse. It still has a fairly un-aesthetic entry and frontage and apparently that is still in process.
If there ever is a place suitable for high density in Byron, it is here. Urban planning best practice has moved towards high density balanced with more open space. I don’t think it’s the end of the world if a lift-well, roofline or awning exceeds the limit as long as it is good architecture and something with character and functionality.
Rail Trail and Bike Paths
The council have just released their WALK RIDE ROLL strategy. This is to roll out more bike and walking paths over the next 10 years. This would be fine in isolation, however, it completely fails to adequately include the Rail Trail. Council is being overly ambitious and risky in going alone and wanting a multi-use Rail Trail that will include a light rail.
Have to look at how much trouble a major city like Sydney is still trying to resolve with their light rail? The Rail Trail from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek is well advanced in planning. Richmond and Lismore Council look like supporting the Casino to Eltham section as well. It could be that the Rail Trail will end up looking like a Colgate commercial with the model’s smile missing the two front teeth – Bangalow to Mullumbimby. Please go on to the submissions page here and save the council from itself. You can make a submission here.
Employment Lands Strategy
Council has been under pressure to release more industrial estate land. Local successful brands like Brookfarm Muesli, Byron Bay Cookie Company, Stone and Wood Brewery, Salumi Smallgoods, needed room to expand and there was no where to go.
Some of these businesses had to either leave the shire or keep a HQ here and take the factory and accompanying jobs to neighbouring shires. BSC have now nominated five parcels of land close to the highway would be suitable to rezone for Industrial land. Hopefully the process will not be disrupted too much with the late addition of the Saddle Road option, as this needs to happen. There are many other companies looking for space now.
This issue is energising quite a lot of people. 5G is the next generation of cellular technology after 4G. There are concerns the frequency of 5G transmission waves are more harmful to humans than 4g. The science is still out but some jurisdictions in Europe have erred on the side of caution and are not rolling it out. There is also a conspiracy theory that Russian Fake News bloggers are promoting anti 5G to stymie western tech advance.
It seems factual that some people are affected by EMF – Electronic Magnetic Fields. Some people have phases of hypochondria and like something to blame their dis-ease on. Some people are hypocrites who protest 5G while using 4G phones. Some people are hyper adapters and embrace every new device and tech advance. The need for 5G is to assist in the roll out of the internet-of-things and driverless cars. But maybe we are hypnotised into thinking we need these things and they are hypothetical anyway?
BSC is between a rock and a hard place with this one. It’s perfectly legal to hold a wedding in your private home, but what happens when lots of people want to hold weddings for strangers, make it a business, and upset the neighbours? Since Byron is a destination where people want to come and get married (how sweet is that?) then there has been a cottage industry pop up to cater to it. Council is correct in trying to find a way to legislate it so that the worst excesses can be limited.
Councils do things called a Rural, or Residential, Settlement Strategy all the time. Except for Byron Council who stumbles along and have been known to take decades to complete one. The current residential strategy has very little meat on the bones except for one plan. Council is looking at rezoning the whole of South Mullumbimby for a combination of affordable housing, aged care, live work business-park, plus town bypass and parkland. Watch this space.
Council could be looking at a couple of wins. They managed to get the Byron bypass through after 35 years of wrangling. The idea of a bed tax has been going around for nearly as long. A bed tax is not allowed on the state government statutes, but a voluntary bed tax is. Looks like this is in the system somewhere and will be introduced sometime soon.
In the council’s effort to be a 100% net zero emissions by 2025, it is rolling out a couple of solar farm projects. The first will be a solar car park parking shading the car park at the Council chambers in Mullumbimby. The second will be a bigger solar farm next door to