Precinct committees suggested at residents' meeting
The creation of precinct committees was supported by two speakers at the latest Residents for Responsible Ettalong Development meeting, held at Ettalong Beach on April 30.
About 70 people attended the meeting to hear the update on the group's fight to retain the village atmosphere against the development applications that push the boundaries of the local planning rules.
Five speakers addressed the issues.
The biggest support came for the suggestion from the room that the group needed to try to get Ettalong Beach's commercial corridor rezoned to reduce the height allowed for developments.
The current P1 zoning along parts of Ocean View Rd allows for buildings up to 17 metres which corresponds to about five storeys.
Meeting convenor Peter Gillis said it was something the group was hoping for but that even if they succeeded in getting the zoning changed to reduce the allowable height down to 11.5 metres, the reality was that the new Atlantis building was seven storeys on land already zoned L2 with a height limit of 11.5m.
The Residents' group was formed earlier this year in response to the development proposal DA 54551in Ocean View St which proposed to build a six storey residential unit block with commercial space at ground level.
"Whose community do you live in?" asked Mr Wolfgang Woerner, a Peninsula resident and a representative of the Greens, who spoke to the meeting about council processes.
"It's your place, our place. Take ownership.
"Anyone who wants to change it needs to ask your permission.''
He went on to explain that council was governed by 131 Acts of Parliament that it has to enact under State Government legislation.
Second speaker Greens media officer Ms Kate Da Costa explained that local government rules and regulations were complicated, technical and boring.
She said planning laws were very complex and the community was not encouraged to get involved.
"That's why we have meetings like this,'' she said.
Precinct committees helped address the problem because people got skilled up, got used to the language and that knowledge base stayed with those committees.
"Gosford and Wyong councils used to have them but they were abolished, not on a whim but because they were effective,'' she said.
"The trick is to get them back in.''
Ms Da Costa said people power did work, even though you didn't always win.
She said the system was rigged against the community. A property developer had the right to appeal to the land and environment court but the community had no right, so it was rigged against it.
Independent candidate running for the Federal seat of Robertson Mr David Abrahams introduced himself as a 20-year resident of Kilcare and spoke about three issues.
The first was the need for local councils to be recognised in the Australian Constitution which would allow funds to come directly from the federal government to councils.
Second, he too urged the group to fight for precinct committees saying complexity of rules was the friend of bureaucracies.
And third, he urged the village community groups on the Peninsula to unify to fight for what they wanted.
State Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch said the recent win by the Liberals in the State election meant four more years of fighting developers.
"You're fighting a tough battle so you need a strong voice,'' she said.
Public meeting 30 April 2019
Reporter: Merilyn Vale