Rather than seeing the approval of a proposal to develop land on Golden Valley Rd in Jamberoo as the beginning of urban creep, Mayor Honey sees it as the end of the village’s expansion.
He says the land was identified as a boundary in 1974, and this status was reinforced in 2006 and 2011.
“It is a notification to peri-urban landholders that this is it. This is as far as the village goes.”
Kiama Council narrowly endorsed the recommendation of its Environmental Services Director to proceed with the process of rezoning the rural land to residential at its April Meeting.
The 10 acres in question is on the south-eastern border of Jamberoo, and is expected to yield around 47 building sites.
The planning proposal to make the necessary alterations to the Local Environment Plan was identical to that rejected 8:1 by Council in December 2016.
In the latest vote, the proposal was endorsed 4:3, with Mayor Mark Honey and Councillors Don Watson, Mark Way and Warren Steel in support.
Councillors Andrew Sloan and Matt Brown were not at the meeting.
“The reason I voted against it originally was to give the community further consultation period,” says Mayor Mark Honey.
He has been in the firing line from some Jamberoo residents since the vote was taken but says that overall the community has been supportive of the decision.
The response of the Jamberoo Valley Residents and Ratepayers Association is given in full at the bottom of this post.
“I didn’t consider any political ramifications when casting my vote. We are elected to do a job, and some of the decisions we make not everyone is going to like, but you have to make decisions that are for the good of the whole,” says Mayor Honey.
“I feel strongly enough that it is in the community interest for the subdivision to go through so it defines the boundary of Jamberoo.
“The development will be in accordance with the new Development Control Plan, which the Jamberoo community strongly fought for to retain the village’s character.”
Councillors Neil Reilly and Kathy Rice spoke passionately against the recommendation, citing community concerns and stressing that the proposal had not changed from that Council had originally rejected.
“There will be no improved amenity for the village from it,” said Councillor Reilly.
“The only benefit will be to the proponent.
“Overwhelming popular opinion is that this proposal is not in the best interests of the village.”
He said it beached the goals of the Illawarra Regional Plan and the Local Environment Plan’s zoning objectives for rural land.
The proposal has highlighted a strong desire to save prime agricultural land in the Valley, rather than lose it to urban sprawl.
At the meeting, Councillor Rice said, “If we are serious about protecting agricultural land we need a rural strategy in place soon.”
Talking after the meeting, Mayor Honey said in the last twenty years, the number of dairy farmers in the Valley has dropped from 65 to eight, and that he doesn’t know of one beef farm that is commercially viable without an off-farm income or a retirement income.
“There is one way you can save the whole Jamberoo Valley for farming and that is for the State or Federal government to come in and buy up all the land and then put tenant farmers on it.
“It is called communism. If you are looking for an answer that is it. But we live in a democracy, and while ever there is money flooding into the Valley there are some small things that Council can do, but we can’t make people farm the land they own.”
He says a number of initiatives are underway to identify and help protect rural land.
JVRRA EXPRESSES DISAPPOINTMENT
The Jamberoo Valley Residents and Ratepayers Association (JVRRA), which strongly opposed the rezoning, released the following statement:
“JVRRA Committee members met today and expressed disappointment about Council’s decision to support the rezoning of the agricultural land at Golden Valley Road, at the entrance to Jamberoo. The vote came despite the Councillors having voted 8 to 1 against the same rezoning proposal in 2016. Councillors had been presented with broad community evidence based on surveys, workshops and community meetings, that an overwhelming proportion of the Jamberoo valley community did not support the proposal.
“JVRRA would like to thank all the community members who have put so much effort into this matter. The whole experience has been a lesson that it is important to keep engaged with Council strategic planning from the earliest stages.”
“Going forward, JVRRA will continue to provide an open forum for the discussion of all matters that affect the Jamberoo Valley community. We will keep working to preserve the village atmosphere of our beautiful valley, and to support a viable local agricultural industry. We meet on the first Tuesday of every month, at 7.30 p.m. in Club Jamberoo. We welcome new members who would like to have their voices heard.”