Resident anger over rezoning
THREE weeks ago David Hayes and his neighbours were living their Australian dream - waking each morning in their own homes, some 100 years old, and looking out over the Tweed River in Murwillumbah. Then Tweed Shire Council drew up plans to rezone their homes as public open space. Under a "concept plan" more than 20 blocks in River Street, South Murwillumbah would be rezoned, while six-storey apartment blocks could be built on the other side of the street with scenic views across the newly created "public open space" to the river and the mountains beyond. Land values west of River Street have shot up, but homeowners who were living their dreams on the%river side of the street face the nightmare of only ever being able to sell to the council. They have just discovered the implications of the proposals which are part of the Draft Murwillumbah Town Centre development control plan on display until November 6. Mr Hayes bought his River Street home eight years ago and moved in late last year. When he heard of the rezoning plan he says he had "not even finished unpacking". He and his neighbours are furious they were not officially notified of the proposal or consulted. He had to discover his home was marked as "public open space" by studying a council map. "My neighbours and I are quite committed to the long term here," Mr Hayes said. "The council said they would offer market value, but that's not necessarily what I would want. People have been renovating their houses. This is a great part of town. "Six-storey rabbit warrens (across the road) would not do anything for Murwillumbah except make money for developers. "By demolishing our houses they are just creating a beautiful view for the developers. "And there's been no mention of population densities.. They have the potential to put 15,000 people there. "They sacked the council because they were having all these dodgy developments. Now we have ad-%ministrators and they are doing it." Silvia Poslon, from the Murwillumbah Pool Shop which sits next to her River Street home, said the council move had destroyed hers and her husband's future plans. "Our properties are zoned commercial and we had the opportunity of three storeys," she said. "We have no retirement plan anymore. "If the council bought this we could never buy anything like this again and we have a business to%relocate." "Our plans have been put on hold till they make a final decision but we believe they have already made up their minds." Husband Kevin Damsma said: "Murwillumbah's charm is Murwillumbah. It should be left like that". A public meeting to discuss fighting the rezoning proposal is to be held in the Murwillumbah Pool Shop in River Street from 6pm on October 9. The Murwillumbah Residents Association intends holding a further meeting against the draft plan on October 15. Senior council planner Iain Lonsdale said the "concept plan would not itself change the zoning of the land and rezoning was "the next step". He said the council would be happy to talk with upset landowners, but added: "I spoke to people down there who are actually quite happy about it. They could be there for 10, 15, 20 years until the council has the money to buy them out."