General News

18 May, 2024

Mayor fights to protect rural land ‘integrity’

TABLELANDS Mayor Rod Marti has again tried to stop rural land from being sub-divided, arguing that council needed to protect the integrity of its rural lands or risk issues in the future.

Mayor fights to protect rural land ‘integrity’ - feature photo

The application was to divide the land on Coleman Road at East Barron into two lots and, according to Cr Kevin Cardew, it was a “straightforward simple application” that would have “no detrimental effect on faming activities that are undertaken at the site” which was also split by a road.

“It’s a common-sense approach,” he said.

Development Services executive manager Sean Lisle said the land was in a rural zone, was split by McKeown Road, and the application to create a 34-hectare and 5ha block had been subject to public consultation which had yielded only two objections to the proposal.

He acknowledged the approval would be inconsistent with the TRC Planning Scheme because the resulting lots would not meet the minimum size for rural lots but explained the existing lot was already less than the minimum size required in a rural zone.

“The applicant states that severance of the road results in the smaller part of the lot being an unviable proposition for rural or agricultural use and the lots operated independently of each other,” Mr Lisle said.

“Officers have concluded practically that it’s unlikely a viable operation can be established on the smaller lot and the viable part of the lot is going to remain in rural use for agricultural purposes.”

He noted that a dwelling could be established on the smaller lot in the future but stressed this would not have an effect on agricultural activities on the larger lot.

Cr Dave Bilney questioned how officers came to the view that the smaller lot was not viable for agricultural purposes, while Mayor Marti made it clear he was totally opposed to the carving up of rural land.

“I fully understand how our officers arrived at their recommendation for approval however I do disagree with it,” he said.

“The issue of the subdivision of rural land, the fragmentation, and the issuing of a title for such a small parcel in the rural zone all ring alarm bells for me.

“We are not valuing and maintaining the rural integrity of our ag land – to actually issue a title on 5.6 hectares which is completely surrounded by a rural precinct – it’s really fragmentation, it’s the death of a thousand cuts.

“Yes, the parcel already exists because McKeown Road divides the block but to actually issue a separate title on this, what we’re doing is...putting rural lifestyle opportunities into the rural zone.

“We need to preserve our rural lands, we’re creating a rod for our back with more subdivision applications of rural land increasingly likely and, what’s more, we are creating a climate for complaints as rural lifestyles are up against serious farming activity. 

“Council already deals with a lot of those complaints and this creates that environment.”

Cr Cardew agreed with the Mayor that the small parcel could support some type of agricultural pursuit but argued that would be still possible with the approval of the subdivision.

Council voted 4-3 to approve the application, with Crs Marti, Baade and Lang against the proposal.


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