Decision on Stadium Drive telecommunications tower deferred by Council

Coffs Harbour City Council has deferred approval of a 28m high telecommunications tower at Stadium Drive to ensure local landowners and educational facilities are fully aware of the proposal. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

A DEVELOPMENT proposal to install a 28 metre high Optus telecommunications tower on Stadium Drive opposite Coffs Harbour Education Campus was recently debated by Coffs Harbour City councillors, with councillors questioning whether the local community knew about the proposed tower.

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The telecommunications facility is to be located at Advocate Park, Stadium Drive, opposite Coffs Harbour TAFE, Coffs Harbour Senior College, and Southern Cross University.

Adjoining the site to the south is St John Paul College.

The surrounding area mainly consists of sporting fields and complexes such as the C.ex International Stadium and Coffs Coast Sport and Leisure Park, and the nearest residential dwellings are located approximately 800 metres west of the proposed facility.

The proposal was lodged with Council by applicant AXICOMM, on behalf of Optus, to facilitate improved mobile coverage at Coffs Harbour Education Campus, and the sport and recreation uses in this area, and will service the expanding residential area west of Geoff King Motors Oval.

The telecommunications facility will include a 25 metre high monopole with three aerials on top (total 28 metres) and one outdoor equipment cabinet, mounted on a raised platform.

The proposed development exceeds the Height of Buildings control of Coffs Harbour Local Environmental Plan 2013.

Council’s Height of Buildings Map specifies a maximum building height of 8.5 metres for the site.

The proponent has submitted a written request to Council seeking consideration of a variation to the height of buildings development standard.

Council had recommended approval of the telecommunications facility, subject to conditions, and the support of AXICOMM’s request to vary the height of buildings development standard.

However, at Council’s recent ordinary meeting on Thursday, 22 October Cr Tegan Swan moved an alternate motion for Council to defer approving the proposal pending further engagement with adjoining land owners and AXICOMM regarding adherence to the relevant industry code of conduct.

“Given the significance of the infrastructure and its location close to multiple educational facilities, which is referenced in the telecommunications voluntary code of conduct as sensitive sites and not to be put within 500 metres of those, and these are well within those boundaries, I just think for peace of mind and ensuring that we are doing the best for our community that we should undertake some further engagement with them just to ensure they’re aware of what is proposed and that they are happy with what’s going on,” Cr Swan said.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry, getting them (the tower) taken down is much harder than asking consideration at different locations.

“By going back and including the proponent in the discussion often there are alternate sites that they are willing to look at, they do have more than one in mind usually.”

Other proposed sites investigated for the telecommunications facility included O’Keefe Drive, Coffs Harbour, Hamilton Drive, Boambee East, Pacific Highway, Boambee, Aubrey Crescent, Coffs Harbour, and Sawtell Road, Toormina.

Cr Swan gave an example of how a similar instance happened in the LGA with not the best outcome in Woolgoolga when a telecommunications tower was installed behind Woolgoolga Diggers RSL Club, which is located close to Rainbow Cottage preschool.

“We’re the ones that are going to be living with it ongoing,” Cr Swan said.

“It’s that balance of getting it right for the community, and in this instance I think that the right thing is to check to ensure that this is what we want and it is the best location and we balance all those factors out.”

Cr Keith Rhoades argued that Council had already publicly advertised the proposal and had received no submissions against it.

“Why did we spend a few hundred dollars advertising, seeking submission for 14 days to tell us that there was no replies,” Cr Rhoades asked at the recent meeting.

“We’ve been through the process, we didn’t get any (submissions).”

Cr Michael Adendorff suggested Council should contact the proponent to seek why it was breaching its code of conduct.

“The proponent should be asked the question ‘how do you justify breaching your own code of conduct?’” Cr Adendorff said.

“These people themselves say ‘keep 500 metres away’, and they are breaching their own voluntary code of conduct.”

Cr George Cecato also wanted Council to question the proponent over why it was breaching the 500 metre rule.

“We’ve got two schools, John Paul College and the Seniors College well within the 500 metres, and they (the proponent) are breaching their own code of conduct,” Cr Cecato said.

Cr Swan’s motion to defer approving the telecommunications tower, and to seek further engagement with local land owners and AXICOMM was voted for unanimously by councillors.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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