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Camping ground DA fires up debate in council

CLARENCE Valley councillors have approved an application to develop a primitive camping ground in Lawrence that was brought to council by one of its own committees.

It was a situation that did not please several councillors or community members, who made deputations to Tuesday's meeting in Maclean.

During long and at time torturous debate, Cr Margaret McKenna reached the essence of the matter when she asked the council's director corporate Ashley Lindsay a telling question.

"Have we got our council approval hat on or do we have our council applicant hat on?" Cr McKenna said.

"Are we making a decision today by voting 'no', that the application shouldn't have come to council in the first place?

"As a group of councillors we were never asked 'did council want to lodge a DA?'."

Mr Lindsay noted the report to council showed that the council received a request from the Lawrence Golf and Sports Club in February to establish primitive recreational vehicle camping on their Crown land.

"The council resolution was as corporate manager of the Lawrence Public Reserve Trust to endorse the submission of a development application to permit primitive camping for self-contained RV vehicles at the Lawrence sports ground," Mr Lindsay said.

"So you're right. What you need to have on today is your approval hat."

Cr McKenna also raised the issue of where the money collected as camping ground fees would go.

She noted during his deputation Lawrence resident Paul Tory said the money should be distributed among other groups who used the grounds, not just the golf club.

Council's director environment, planning and community Des Schroder said the question of distributing money was jumping the gun.

"Where the money goes is a business case down the track," he said. "This is about the DA and we think a DA is the appropriate approval to go into that site."

The debate on the matter brought up concerns of who would police the site, the road access to the site and how long it would take to recoup $30,000 estimated to cover costs of the conditions in the DA.

The council eventually voted to approve the DA, although it was amended to reduce the number of vehicles from 20 to 10.

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