A tidal wave of anger - Council top dog's remarks stun meeting

A TOP council officer's flippant remarks about tsunamis and vandalism haves left a key group of Murwillumbah ratepayers fuming. On Monday night the Murwillumbah Ratepayers Association met with Tweed Shire Council planning boss Noel Hodges and strategic planner Eber Butron to get some answers about the council's proposed amendments to the development plan for Murwillumbah. The proposals are for six-storey buildings on the eastern side of River Street , South Murwillumbah, and four%storeys for areas facing onto Knox Park from Nullum and Wollumbin streets. Jim O'Regan, a ratepayers%association member, said he was "gob-smacked' by the council officer's answer when he asked "why four storeys?" "They said residents on the fourth floor would have better surveillance of the vandalism in Knox Park," Mr O'Regan said. When it came to the reason for six-storey buildings in River Street the meeting was told the top floor would provide refuge for residents in the event of a tsunami hitting the town. "Everyone's jaws dropped. It's a joke," Mr O'Regan said. "Four and six storeys are far greater vandalism than any graffiti or occasional wheelie fire. These are the people planning the future of our town and spending our rates." Yesterday Mr Hodges said he thought the meeting went well. He said he believed there was no difference between tsunami floodwaters and a-one-in-10,000-year flood. "The effect is the same and the amount of water is the same," Mr Hodges said, not backing away from his statement. The proposed four-storey buildings around Knox Park would encourage "passive surveillance" with vandals less likely to act if they knew more people were watching, he said. Ratepayers association president Dianna Eriksen said the proposed four storeys was not just contained around Knox Park, but crept up to Riverview and Hartigan streets. "Riverview Street is lined with heritage houses all kept beautifully. If it goes to four storeys that's the end of them," Mrs Eriksen said. It was difficult to get a precise picture of what the council had planned, "but there is a lot under threat," she said. The council officers told the meeting that every big retailer in Australia was keen to know what council was planning for the land around Knox Park, Mrs Eriksen said. Paul Hopkins, of the Caldera Environment Centre, who also attended the meeting believes planning for the town is being driven by developers. "These planning jobs are given out to people from Brisbane and Sydney who have no knowledge of the shire. They talk to potential developers six times more than they talk to the locals. They compile the developers' wish list and that is what drives the plan for the town, rather than local planning driving the style of development," he said. "Not true," Mr Hodges said adding that there was a lot of consultation with community groups and individuals by the independent consultant group who drew up the plan.



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