Residents on the Port Macquarie orbital road investigation corridor will next week receive more information on council's plans.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council told a sometimes vocal council meeting on Wednesday December 12 that it would ramp up its communication to residents.
Wednesday night’s meeting included a silent protest, placards and two speakers addressing the public forum.
The meeting sometimes spilled over with a mix of applause, gasp of disbelief and the occasional nod of agreement.
Mayor Peta Pinson told the protesters that the turn out was a good show of grassroots democracy in action.
In 2017 a council report identified a desired road connection between Ocean Drive through to the Oxley Highway and beyond to the airport and Hastings River Drive to ease traffic congestion.
At the time, council director Jeffery Sharp said any orbital road would be a long-term strategic project and not something, in his experience, that would come to fruition in a short period of time.
Following council’s announcement about its planning for an orbital road, a number of action groups have sprung up in affected areas including, Lake Innes, Greenmeadows, and Fernhill.
Addressing the open forum, Sanctuary Springs resident Philip Lloyd touched on the key issues concerning the orbital road.
He said the published fact sheet provided by council was contradictory and lacked the necessary options for residents to make an informed decision.
Mr Lloyd was concerned that only one option for the road was available when "four or five options for discussion" were listed for the Stingray Creek Bridge.
"Residents who contacted the council were disconnected after some 11 minutes and actively discouraged from having staff come to meet them," he said.
"Others who filled out the online form have never heard back from council.
"Council staff who came out to speak to residents were sent without knowledge of any meaningful details. Written questions have not been answered."
Mr Lloyd said council should discuss with the Roads and Maritime Service improving traffic congestion near Wright's Road and Lake Road and the Oxley Highway before pushing ahead with the orbital road planning.
He said planned significant changes to these areas will likely make dramatic improvements to the traffic flow in the general area.
He also raised concerns about the impact the orbital road decision has had on property values, the uniqueness of the environment behind Sanctuary Springs and the unsuitability of Greenmeadows Drive in relation to the southern exist as further reasons council needed to reconsider the orbital road route.
"The divisive document should never have been released without first carrying out more detailed investigations, costings and a projected timeline," he said.
He said many of the affected residents were in their 70s and the announcement had caused health issues.
Cr Geoff Hawkins said it appeared there was a communication problem and asked general manager Craig Swift-McNair if council had the capacity to communicate better with the community.
The general manager said council staff were currently drafting 120 responses in relation to the project.
"Some of the information will be coming out to residents in the next week," he said.
Director Jeffery Sharp told the meeting council will go to the community in February with pop-up information booths and undertake further consultation with affected residents and groups.
The second speaker, Debbie Purcell said residents were in shock about the potential impact on their lives.
"A lot of residents live in these houses because they require urgent medical attention," she said.
"How can we have our say when we are not properly informed?
"All we have is a highlighted map showing where the proposed road could go. We don't have any wording around that.
Ms Purcell said the council had engaged with key stakeholders on the health and education precinct in the Lake Innes area. She says that document had the orbital road as part of its plans.
"Council discussed this precinct with Bunnings, Coles, the University and the hospital. But not residents.
"Why wasn't the community involved in this discussion? We are the people who own the land and we are the people who pay the rates," she said.
"Surely the community that has been established should not be suffering because of council's forward planning, or lack thereof."
Responding to a question from Cr Lisa Intemann, Mr Sharp confirmed that council had acquired a property on John Oxley Drive.
However, he said that purchase was made as part of council's property portfolio.
The director also said it would be unlikely that 470 houses would be bulldozed to accommodate the road.
"That is an incredibly inflated figure," he said.
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