Mayor?s fury

By DAVID MOASE

'SHOCKING, disgusting, appalled'. Coffs Harbour mayor Cr Keith Rhoades is angry and the RTA is where he is venting his fury.

Speaking yesterday, just 24 hours after the press conference to announce the RTA's preferred route for the Coffs Harbour bypass, Cr Rhoades was still unable to contain his anger at both the preferred route and the way it was announced.

He says the RTA has demonstrated that it holds the people of Coffs Harbour in contempt by ignoring input from community consultation forums and ruining long-standing plans for residential expansion in the North Boambee Valley.

"Being a realist, I know there are going to be good days and bad, but yesterday was the worst I have been through since being elected," he said.

"So many things were done that are totally wrong.

"If that is what the RTA considers professionalism ? God help us. It was shocking, disgusting."

Cr Rhoades said he hoped the council would be able to continue to work with the Carr Government on the highway issue and saved his anger for the bureaucrats of the RTA.

He accused them of not taking community consultation seriously and only going through the motions when listening to the views of the public.

He said Pacific Highway general manager Bob Higgins had used a value management workshop held earlier this year to push for the Inner South 1 (IS1) option when the evidence presented supported the case of the more westerly Inner South 2.

IS1 runs from Englands Road, through the North Boambee Valley near Bishop Druitt College and through what will be a cutting in Roberts Hill Ridge.

"Millions of dollars have been spent over the years in planning residential expansion in the North Boambee Valley," Cr Rhoades said.

"Originally it was planned to have 10,000 residents in that area, then that was reduced to 5000 and then 3000.

"Now we will lose 70 per cent of that 3000 ? the Development Control Plan is out the window, a proposed high school in the area is now gone.

"We have lost 70 per cent of prime residentially zoned land, where people would have had the chance to realise the great Australian dream of owning their home."

Cr Rhoades also said the selection of the IS1 route had ignored lessons learnt from the proximity of Kororo Public School to the Pacific Highway by pushing the new route close to Bishop Druitt College, raising the potential for diesel fumes to blow onto the school.

The mayor's other concerns include:

Why the council was not told of Tuesday's announcement until 90 minutes before it was made.

The fact a 'middle-ranking bureaucrat' (Mr Higgins) made the announcement, rather than Roads Minister Carl Scully.

The deletion from earlier plans of highway interchanges at North Boambee Road and Mastocolas Road, which he says will make the road of little use to local residents.

No announcement of funding for the completion of Hogbin Drive, which the council says will help take vehicles away from the highway.

"The RTA has given us nothing," he said.

"No sweeteners, nothing to help complete Hogbin Drive.

"Now the council has to sit down, look at the situation and come up with a strategy to take us forward.

"The council's resolution from November last year still stands ? that we support a coastal corridor, with Option A for Woolgoolga; nothing has changed.

"This is far from finished. I see it as the first step of what will be a long journey. The planning will take about five years and it could be another 10 years after that before any building starts."



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