The MRRA is born
FOR more than 60 years Murwillumbah residents have lived quietly on and around the hills beside their stretch of the Tweed River.
Only the occasional flood, fire, storm or threat to the district's cherished hospital stirred community spirit.
Suddenly that has changed.
Never before has the town had a residents's association.
Never before had the occupants of the mostly weatherboard, often high-set bungalows felt a need to speak about what their neighbours plan to do.
The town's business folk had their chamber of commerce and for many years most people knew a shire councillor who lived in or near Murwillumbah.
Surrounding villages had long had their progress association's and newer settlements on the coast had established resident's groups for years. But never quiet old Murwillumbah.
Last Tuesday night in the Murwillumbah Autumn Club room next to the library about 50 townsfolk with the district's future at heart and their own lifestyles at stake decided a change is in order.
The residents, most of whom have lived in the town for decades, some coming from the oldest streets, took part in the inaugural meeting of the Murwillumbah Ratepayers and Residents Association (MRRA).
The group is officially incorporated, has registered its name and has an initial list of battles to be fought.
High on that list is concern about a planned 100-plus housing estate which would see a hillside bulldozed and small valley filled off Barnby Street, just over two kilometres west of the town centre.
Also high on the list is alarm about the increase in traffic which would worsen with the proposed development.
Already new housing in west Murwillumbah estates including River Oak and Bellevue Heights and further west around Uki has seen heavier traffic through the town which some residents argue will soon require a second bridge.
MRRA spokesperson Diana Eriksen, who was born and bred in Murwillumbah, said the town had never needed a residents' association before.
"Development over the past 60 years has been piecemeal and small," she said. "There hasn't been a large need for an association."
Now however members of the new group, mainly from Barnby Street, West End Street, Byangum Road and Frangella Drive which would be affected by either the new development or traffic have drawn up an agenda for action.
Ms Eriksen said they had agreed to invite developers Metricon to a future meeting to explain their intentions.
They would investigate lodging a "Victim Impact Statement" with Tweed Shire Council outlining the adverse affects of the development.
They would call on the Council to consider the impact of climate change on surrounding properties from the bulldozing of the hill, which some residents feel protects them from buffeting winds.
The inaugural meeting also expressed "total opposition" to "certain councillors" using ratepayers funds to challenge the recent State Governmentappointed public inquiry into Council operations.
And those attending agreed to push for strategic planning and funding for a ring road system for Murwillumbah, possibly including a second bridge upstream from the current town bridge.
Ms Eriksen said the group would be following the advice of the only councillor to attend the meeting, Kingscliff based Dot Holdom, who "urged us to keep issues in the public eye".