Backflip saves city’s parks

MAYOR Karen Williams has used the final general meeting for the year to backflip on a proposal to rezone some council parks.

The rezoning proposal was anticipated to pave the way for the sale of the sites to developers.

All councillors voted for the move, heralding the final nail in the coffin for changing the use of city parks currently zoned environmental protection, open space or conservation.

Under the original plan, council was to rezone some parks deemed "surplus" before transferring them to council's investment arm, Redland Investment Corporation.

It was expected the investment corporation would then sell the land to developers.

The plan remained secret until Redland City Bulletin published details of a leaked document revealing the addresses of the sites, which were included in the draft City Plan.

Every household later received a newsletter encouraging them to provide feedback on the properties in the area that were proposed for rezoning.

After the story, which revealed a Cleveland kindy was part of the rezoning proposal, council received more than 4000 public submissions about the draft town plan last month.

Cr Williams said she decided to change the rezoning proposal after listening to constituents during the 11-week public submission period over the town plan.

"Any fear or any scaremongering that has occurred as a result of this (plan is now) on the agenda for people to know publicly that we had all the best intentions," she said.

“By putting this forward through the (public consultation) process, clearly you’ve spoken and so we’re removing it now in advance of the scheme being adopted.”

Her scaremongering comment was challenged by Division 2 councillor Craig Ogilvie who said there was a real threat the blocks of land would be rezoned for developments.

Cr Ogilvie said opponents of the rezoning would be suspicious of the backflip and would look on it as an election sweetener.

“Part of the community outrage is that council made decisions identifying land as surplus without sharing that with the community,” he said.

“(This plan) was never highlighted and only went out with the planning scheme - I don’t remember any media releases or intent to engage the community.”

Originally, Cr Williams asked for the rezoning to be "suspended" but Cr Murray Elliott (Div7)  wanted the move to be permanent.

That prompted chief executive Bill Lyon to claim no land could be rezoned or transferred to Redlands Investment Corporation without council approval.

He added that any other type of council land outside the three stipulated zonings could still be transferred to Redlands Investment Corp for sale and mentioned the Doig Street car park.

However, both cllrs Williams and Ogilvie agreed on one thing - that the decision could be reversed when the council ultimately consented to the city plan, next year after the March 19 election.