A Woy Woy Peninsula resident was knocked back from talking in the open forum held before the September 28 Central Coast Council meeting.
The forum is held before every Central Coast Council meeting and the knock back comes after Administrator Rik Hart has – at every meeting – lamented the lack of residents taking the opportunity to speak to him at the public and the open forums.
The public forum deals with issues on the agenda that evening while the open forum is for other issues.
Resident, Julian Bowker, wanted to talk to Administrator Hart to remind him not to forget the Peninsula and used two matters as examples.
They were a recent council decision to spend big bucks to improve a walkway at Mt Ettalong and a planning proposal that would allow higher development on the Ettalong waterfront than currently permitted.
Council staff have ruled he couldn’t address the meeting because one of issues had already been determined by Council and the other one was on public exhibition for comment.
He was told he had no right of appeal but could contact the Administrator if he wanted to complain.
At the September 28 meeting, Hart endorsed the decision by saying the forum was not an opportunity to attempt rescission motions.
But Bowker was not attempting anything of the kind.
He was attempting to take up the Council offer of talking at the meeting.
Here is his intended speech.
“With the physical consolidation of the Council offices leaving Gosford and moving to Wyong.… I must ask you to not forget the south, particularly the Woy Woy Peninsula, which alone makes up more than 12 per cent of the entire Central coast and is home to over 38,000 residents.
“On the Peninsula, we have had some great spot improvements in recent weeks – improved footpaths around Umina Surf Club and more picnic tables.
“However recently, it seems we have had a couple of quick decisions at Council meetings that will impact the community – and I would question if these have been made by people who are familiar with the local area.
“One case is the Mount Ettalong enhancements – while grateful for the attention – even Council’s community engagement indicated that 89 per cent of respondents did not want the natural feel of the path changed and yet, you approved this.
“There seem to be three major parts of this proposal which include: safety of the lookouts; car park; and the path.
“If we are trying to tighten the financial belt – would we not consider what are the elements we need to do and what are the parts that can wait or people don’t want?
“It seems this has been approved as a $1.7m spend, which any commercial entity might review and prioritise on the essential and desired elements only.
“This was approved by the Administrator before allowing public comment at the Council meeting.
“I would certainly encourage both Mr Hart and CEO David Farmer to take their families for some exercise and walk to Mount Ettalong, it’s still within the LGA, to examine where you are voting to commit the communities’ funds.
“My final example is the proposal to increase the height limit along the southern storm exposed Ettalong foreshore to 17m, that’s a change from three storeys to five.
“This proposal was prompted by an unknown developer, created by Council planning department, and subsequently recommended by the Administrator to be considered under the state gateway process.
“If approved, this will bring increased pressure on the area with parking, infrastructure, and already struggling empty retail shops and does not adhere to the agreed local planning controls.
“This proposal would be another over height monolith building spreading shade over the road and beach, Gold Coast style, next to the considerably over-height Atlantis building and empty ground floor shops.
“As of 2016, Ettalong is the second most densely populated suburb on the entire Central Coast.
“And in 2018 a report shows that it’s the hottest suburb…not for being a hip place to hang out but the survey showed the Peninsula and particularly Ettalong was 5.73 degrees above the baseline temperature.
“It is odd that Council, who are under administration with reduced planning staff levels who have commented they are struggling to keep up with the workload and unfamiliar with the area, still seem to have time to pro-actively propose this spot rezoning.
“Whilst not against development, we have some existing agreed limits in the DCP and LEP instrument, lets stick to those and focus on core council business.
“Might I be so bold as to suggest on your way back from your walk do take a stroll along the Ettalong foreshore to the Ferry wharf.
“Enjoy an ice cream from one of the local cafes still open and have a look at the plastic fence that is protecting the foreshore current erosion only 19m away from this site.
“And ask yourself does this small village with a delicate foreshore really need more of this high-rise development?
“Like the public, you would be aware of upcoming meeting agendas and, I would hope, familiarise yourself with the items that need a decision and if caught off guard – I’m sure a ‘I need more time to consider – can we defer decision to next meeting’ would also be an acceptable option.”