Controversy over one of shire's 'most valuable properties'
The owners of a McLeods Shoot property, who have had a development application for eight glamping sites refused, hope to have the land rezoned.
A DA for Byron View Farm, at 194 St Helena Rd, was refused by Byron Shire councillors on Thursday.
The council's staff said in their report the property has been operating as a wedding venue with accommodation without prior council approval.
Owners Rob and Billie Schwamberg said town planner, Dwayne Roberts of Ardill Payne & Partners, worked on the DA and was also "working with council regarding the zoning of the property".
"Byron View Farm has been hosting small weddings for 10 years; we run these weddings intimately with strict regulations - having never received a complaint across this time," they said in a statement.
"Council has been aware of these weddings, and for the past eight years council has been internally discussing zoning changes. Our zoning at Byron View Farm has remained the same since 1987. We hope to have the zoning amended as soon as possible."
Mr Roberts told councillors on Thursday the owners were undertaking extensive rainforest plantings on the site and were "the most passionate" he'd met regarding bush regeneration.
"It's one of the most valuable properties in the shire and he's planting out the whole thing with rainforest," he said.
Philip and Margaret McMurdo addressed the council via a letter, asking the council to refuse the DA.
The 7d scenic escarpment zoning that covers the relevant part of the property only allows for a "primitive campground".
The McMurdos argued the proposed eight safari tents, complete with wooden platforms, bathrooms and a kitchenette, did not fit that criteria and the council's staff agreed in their report.
Cr Alan Hunter moved the staff recommendation to refuse the DA and this was passed in a 7-1 vote.
He expressed empathy for the owners, but said the zoning issue must he resolved first.
"We can't just bend the rules or adjust the rules because we're putting more pressure on ourselves every time we face this kind of decision," Cr Hunter said.
Mayor Simon Richardson said a key concern was putting any extra visitors on St Helena Rd, particularly while it sports a dangerously blind crest.