KEEP IT RURAL: Berry Park turf farmer Jeff Fetterplace on his Berry Park farm. PICTURE: Jonathan Carroll.
A small rural lobby group has called on the State Government to intervene in the development application process for aseniors’ living development at Berry Park that it believes should have gone before the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
The Primary Agricultural Land Survival Group, which comprisesBerry Park residents,is protesting the development proposed by Hunter businessman Hilton Grugeon.
The group is trying to determine if Mr Grugeon’s actions to have the development approved in two stages by Maitland City Council (each stage just under the JRPP $20 million cap)is legal.
Mr Grugeon told Fairfax Media his development is above board, legal and something that should be determined at a local level.
He saidhe did lodge his initial application with the JRPP but withdrewit because the panel was already scrutinising another proposal he had before it.
“We played by the rules and foreshadowed there would be further DAs,” Mr Grugeon said.
“Councilmakes its decisions not just on what’s best for20 or 30 objectors but on what’sbest for the 7000 people in Morpeth and the 80,000 people who live in Maitland. It needs to be kept in balance.”
Mr Grugeon’s originalapplication, lodged two yearsago,comprised 178 homes. This resulted in strong community backlash. The development was scaled back to 74 homes and approved by councilin May.
This weekcouncil called for public comment on an application for an additional 88 lots aspart of the same development.
“I understand these residentshave a point of view, which I respect, but at the end of the day the decision is made on what’s best for the city,” Mr Grugeon said.
A spokesperson for the Berry Park group said 74 homes (stage one) approved by council in May should have gone before the JRPPbecause of the scale and cost of the development.
They have called on the Stateto intervene until it is determined whether the development application process has been carried out correctly.
“Most of us own businesses and we support development but this is in the wrong location,” the spokesperson said. “Our key concerns arewater run-off, contamination and the over-development of the site.This is an urban plan for rural land which we are trying to retain in Berry Park and this goes against every policy the council has got.”
Resident Linda Fenton, whose husband Jeff Fetterplace operates a turffarm,is waiting for a reply from the Environmental Defender’s Office to see what options are available to residents who wish to fight the plan.
“Both stages have come in under the $20million cap,” Ms Fenton said.“This is actually one proposaland the developer has put it into two.We’re disappointed but not surprised by the application which isa conflict of land use.” Ms Fenton and the group will lodge submissions onthe latest DA.