Our say | Who has the real power over development?

AN item to go before Bathurst Regional Council on Wednesday night will provide an interesting insight into the power – or otherwise – of our elected representatives.

Councillors will again vote on a development application for a proposed 222-lot subdivision at Eglinton.

The development will massively change the village feel of Eglinton and it is crucial that it is done right.

There have already been a number of concerns raised regarding its impact on roads, pressure on the local school and concerns the subdivision does not provide enough green space.

And when the item last came before council in March there were even suggestions the subdivision could become a future slum.

For all that talk, though, the only issue sent back to the developer for reconsideration was the proposal to relocate a water course at the western edge of the project.

The developer proposed realigning the water course which would allow a better footprint for creating the new lots.

But the proposal did not sit well with councillors who rejected the plans, citing concerns over the potential for flooding.

Councillors asked the developer to resubmit showing the “retention of the existing water course traversing the land including appropriate buffers”.

When the plans return to council on Wednesday night, however, no such retention will be included.

Instead, the plans still seek to  relocate the water course as originally proposed, but this time round show more detail of the planned upgrade of the drainage along the western edge of the subdivision.

The resubmitted DA satisfies council’s own planning director but will it satisfy the councillors whose express wishes have been ignored?

It’s the classic conundrum of council.

On the one hand, council – that is, ratepayers – pay planning, engineering and finance professionals to offer expert advice on matters to be decided and it is usually foolhardy for councillors, who generally hold no such expertise, to ignore what they have to say.

On the other hand, councillors are elected to speak for the residents and to represent their concerns – and councillors are the ultimate decision-makers.

So when the experts and the elected disagree, who wins out? The answer will be a little clearer come Wednesday.