Albury Council planning committee rejects East Albury land re-zoning proposal

A PLAN to convert a former orchard into a light industrial estate in East Albury has been dealt a major blow.

Albury Council’s planning and development committee on Monday night rejected a staff recommendation to approve the re-zoning proposal put forward by the Riccardi family subject to a long list of conditions including the creation of monitoring bores to safeguard against groundwater contamination.

The recommendation was defeated 5-2 and an amendment proposed by deputy mayor Amanda Cohn and seconded by mayor Kevin Mack to reject the proposal on the grounds of potential impacts on future development in the area, the amenity of existing adjacent residential properties and its proximity to the Murray River succeeded 4-3.

Heated debate unfolded on the issue including suggestions of political motivations led by Cr Cohn’s affiliation with the Greens.

But she said her biggest concerns were potential groundwater contamination threats, increased traffic in an already congested part of the city and there already being sufficient in industrial land in Albury.

“Future generations will ask why we did this and here we have an opportunity to not re-zone this land,” she said.

Cr Henk van de Ven and Cr Alice Glachan were the only ones in support of the re-zoning, but Cr Darren Cameron was also in favour even though he wasn’t on the planning and development committee.

He said knocking back the proposal was a major mistake and pointed out the subject land was 80 metres from the river and was also separated by a levee bank.

Follow-up stages in would also be subject to council approval.

“From the re-zoning there is no right of appeal which is why certain groups in the community are going for the throat on this issue,” he said.

“It seems every man and their dog have a right to tell council to sterilise private property, but have a right to enjoy some sort of idyllic vista for their own pleasure.”

He said the Riccardi family had taken on board previous feedback with the most recent tweak being the scrapping of heavy industrial activities in the area.

Cr van de Ven was similarly aggrieved.

“To knock this back would give the wrong signal to people wanting to invest in Albury,” he said.

“It would be poorly viewed from the outside if this was done purely for political reasons.”

The committee recommendation will be voted on at the November 27 meeting.

Cr Graham Docksey was an apology from the committee meeting on Monday night.

Also voting against the re-zoning and backing Cr Cohn’s amendment were Cr David Thurley and Cr Murray King.

Cr Stuchbery voted against the re-zoning, but didn’t support the amendment.