SLOW RIDE TO THE FAST LANE
By UTE SCHULENBERG
ATTEMPTS by Urunga resident Michael Polden to speed the RTA's Urunga Bypass decision and shorten the excruciating limbo many families are experiencing, has met with no support from the Roads and Traffic Authority.
After his initial shock at finding his dream home of 17 years on South Arm Road was right in the path of the most likely Urunga bypass route (the central route, see page 3), Mr Polden and some neighbours decided on a more proactive approach.
They wrote to consultants Sinclair, Knight, Merz saying al-though they were not happy with the decision, they would accept it and suggested negotiating a sale price sooner rather than later.
"We took the approach ? let's get on with it and get this highway built," Mr Polden said.
They heard nothing.
In August the couple went to Grafton to talk directly to the RTA.
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"We wanted to know where the plans were up to," Mr Polden said.
"The RTA said 'we can't tell you anything'.
"When we suggested them buying us out, they said in that case we would lose all the benefits they normally offer to people."
Those benfits include the RTA paying stamp duty for the sale, paying a disturbance value on top of the agreed sale price plus the cost of the relocation.
Instead the RTA have told the Poldens to keep receipts for any maintenance they do on the house in the meantime, which can be recouped when a sale eventually goes through.
"How unfair is that?
"This building will probably be bulldozed and the taxpayer is asked to foot the bill for anything we do in the meantime.
"We tried to do the right thing to speed the process but we could be here for another three to five years.
"It would have been nice to have been able to feel a bit more secure."
The member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, said leaving people in limbo for protracted periods was typical of how the RTA operated.
"Here are members of a community coming together to try to get some closure on the matter and still they get nowhere," Mr Fraser said.
"We understand that the process is a slow one, but the RTA should go out and buy these houses to give these people some certainty.
"Even if these houses don't end up being on the chosen route, they could still be resold without any loss."
For now the Poldens feel 'betwixt and between'.
"We can't replace our shed because we might be moving, we can't sell and we can't move," Mr Polden said.
An RTA spokesperson said the preferred route will be announced shortly.