EDITORIAL: Most important council feedback you can give
THE last council meeting of the year has arrived and while it's tempting to close our minds to official business, there's something that still deserves serious attention.
After all, a decision looms which will shape how Hervey Bay, Maryborough (and surrounding towns like Tiaro which is about to embark on the historic bypass challenge) look and what they are like to live in for at least the next decade.
At the very least, making your feelings known about the planning scheme review is worth a diary note and time set aside when things resume in 2021.
This will be the year councillors sign off on a document which sets rules for many of things we care deeply about - building heights including on the Esplanade, the scale of housing developments, land sizes and how closely homes can be built alongside the other, street trees, footpaths, zoning, developer contributions and much more.
Recent public reaction to several council decisions has made clear many don't understand how much control councillors have (or more importantly don't have) about things which tick the required boxes under the scheme.
The recent "special meeting" called regarding the "vote" on approving the Bunnings move in Hervey Bay may have seemed like a crucial point in the process for a development of that scale.
The outcome however was predetermined.
It didn't really matter that the mayor voted against it and it wouldn't have mattered if the majority of others had followed suit.
This was a code assessable development in line with the scheme, could have been signed off on by department heads and had all councillors said no, Bunnings would likely have had such a strong case it wouldn't have made it past mediation.
Whether you are happy with this process or want to see it changed, say something.
Many find the planning scheme prohibitive when it comes to investing in the Fraser Coast.
In fact there's a pretty steady stream of folks who have invested elsewhere and say they've never seen anything like it.
If this is you, say something.
Speedway fans were recently shocked by a council decision to clamp down on burnout events in a way which will likely force the committee to cancel events of this kind.
The decision was in response to a petition started by upset residents in the neighbouring RV retirement village.
The council says it has a duty to uphold EPA regulations which may well be the case but the planning scheme allowed a development of that kind to be built next to a speedway in the first place.
If you think better planning is needed, say something.
Today, a Hervey Bay housing development, with some of the smallest lot sizes ever proposed in this region, will go before council and will almost certainly be approved.
That's the recommendation from council officers. The planning scheme allows it.
While some negotiations have taken place between the council and developer since the last time it was before the council (eg the addition of a park and a slight increase in lot size), it's a wall to wall housing estate in the centre of town.
Whether you think this is the right solution for affordable housing or it's not the kind of development you want to see set a precedent for the future, say something.
While the early stages of public consultation on the planning scheme review have already passed us by in this tumultuous year (and there may be cause for it to be extended given the Chronicle understands less than 70 people in a region of more than 100,000 have responded) this doesn't mean there's not still time to email your mayor and councillors directly with your hopes for our future.
More details are available at https://frasercoast.engagementhub.com.au/planning-scheme-review-project
When you do, we'd also like to hear it.