BREAKING: A controversial push by beachfront residents to improve their views by way of a three-year vegetation clearing and pruning program on sand dunes has been shot down, the risk of setting a region-wide precedent proving too great.
A number of residents living on the eastern side of Beachside Ct and Ocean Ct at Shelly Beach have been in contact with the Sunshine Coast Council since April, 2015, pushing to have work done to improve their views.
As a result, the council was today considering a three-year vegetation management plan for three zones alongside the houses, which would see some clearing and pruning to improve scenic amenity.
Council officers had recommended endorsement of the plans and to push ahead with community consultation, with a report to come back to the council in June on the outcome of that consultation to then determine whether or not the trial program would be put into action.
If so, no other requests for similar trial programs to improve visual amenity would occur while the Shelly Beach trial was ongoing, without a full report to the council and further directions being made.
That amendment was made to the original advice, which had said the trial program would be limited only to the Shelly Beach zones.
Division 2 Councillor and Deputy Mayor Tim Dwyer made the case for progression with the consultation, noting it would only be seven trees cleared and that efforts would be made to ensure no negative impacts on nesting turtle populations.
"Our job as councillors does not always present us with things that make us popular," Cr Dwyer began.
He said the residents seeking the trial had been "nothing but exemplary" from the onset and asked his colleagues to judge the proposal "on its merits".
"Do it equitably and fairly," he said.
His push to progress to consultation was supported by Cr Christian Dickson, who supported it on the basis it would go out to wider community feedback.
But Cr Jenny McKay couldn't support Cr Dwyer, concerned about the precedent it may set.
Cr Rick Baberowski thought the council had learnt enough already from community reaction and feedback to the plans and that further consultation wasn't necessary, as he too couldn't support the motion.
Cr Ted Hungerford was also opposed to progressing to consultation, while Cr Steve Robinson feared an unworkable, region-wide policy being created if consultation took place and the trial program was established.
"This is a trial that, if it went ahead, would lead to something else," Cr Robinson said, fearing future legal challenges.
Did the council make the right decision?
This poll ended on 30 March 2017.
It should never have been up for discussion
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
The initial motion to proceed to consultation for the trial program was voted down 8-3, with councillors Dwyer, Dickson and John Connolly the only ones supporting the motion.
Cr Dwyer submitted an alternate motion following the defeat, to have six pandanus trees allegedly illegally planted in the zones removed.
That motion was also defeated 7-4.