By BELINDA F SCOTT
BARKING and growling between a group of Gaudrons Road residents and Pettina Park Pet Centre over a development threatens to turn into an all-out dogfight.
The matter is likely to go all the way to the Land and Environment Court, no matter what Coffs Harbour City Council decides, which may land the city's ratepayers with a legal bill.
Public submissions are currently being sought on a development application by Pettina Park to build a $1 million boarding kennels and pet centre on a three-hectare site at 59 Gaudrons Road.
This proposed three-stage development would eventually house 200 visiting dogs and 50 cats.
In spite of Pettina Park's owners making friendly overtures, the proposal has raised the hackles of residents in Gaudrons Road, who have already established a fighting fund against the proposal and vowed to take the matter as far as needed to defeat it.
These Gaudrons residents say their quiet lifestyle with its spacious blocks, unspoiled environment, waterways and native animals will be ruined by barking dogs, excessive traffic on a narrow rural road and contaminated runoff from animal faeces and cleaning chemicals.
Paul Bourne, who owns and operates Pettina Park with his wife, Leah, says he also will go straight to the Land and Environment Court if his $38,000 development application is knocked back by council, because the site's zoning permits the development with council approval and they have done everything required by council.
Mr Bourne says his new development is badly needed by Coffs Harbour pet owners and will exceed the standards required, with a soundproof building and internal exercise yards, landscaping, leading-edge water recycling and waste management technology and an automatic disinfection system.
Pettina Park is about to lose its highway access with the Pacific Highway upgrade work, while their present site adjoins land approved for the development of 132 units.
Residents admit the proposal has split their peaceful community down the middle, with some dog owners siding with Pettina Park and others fiercely opposed.
Mr Bourne and at least one opposing resident say they have been threatened over the matter and both sides fear an escalation of the situation affecting their children.
At the heart of the residents' opposition is the zoning of Gaudrons Road land, which is 1A agricultural.
Residents say it should be 2A rural residential and that council's own future planning supports this.
Fur began flying again this week after Mr Bourne called council rangers to remove large protest posters which residents had put up all around his Gaudrons Road property and residents complained that the signs were on public land and they had a right to protest.
Mr Bourne is now considering legal action after protesters put up a 'no to Pettina Park' sign on the Korora pedestrian bridge.
The submission period has been extended to March 20.