December could be a pivotal point for Fernhill Road residents whose lives have been turned upside down by Port Macquarie road planning.
The proposed airport access road corridor runs through the Fernhill neighbourhood, triggering uncertainty for affected residents.
Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann raised the proposed primary airport access road intersection with the Oxley Highway during the August meeting of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.
Councillors, in a seven to two vote, requested general manager Craig Swift-McNair investigate and consult with Transport for NSW about the feasibility of two options.
Those options are upgrading the existing Clifton Drive intersection to serve the proposed primary airport access road or continuing to plan for a new intersection with the proposed primary airport access road onto the Oxley Highway, excluding the extension of any new intersection into the Fernhill area.
A progress report is due at the December 11 council meeting.
The council also acknowledged the significant evident environmental and geological constraints associated with the proposed "blue line" investigation area from Fernhill Road to replace the Clifton Drive intersection at the Oxley Highway.
Mayor Peta Pinson and Cr Sharon Griffiths voted against the move.
Port Macquarie Better Orbital Options Alliance representative Denis Lane said the alliance supported any possible interruption to the devastating threat from this totally flawed and outdated orbital road scheme to so much of our beautiful Port Macquarie, its environment and community.
"It is a great pity that the motion is not broader in its scope and comes with no real possibility of a genuine search for smarter solutions," Mr Lane told the meeting.
David Pensini spoke in opposition to the recommendation on behalf of Lady Nelson Drive residents.
He said to date little information had been publicly available which demonstrated the council's decision making in selecting the Lady Nelson Drive/Fernhill Road route.
Fernhill Road residents called for a rigorous and transparent route identification and solution process to be initiated.
Cr Intemann told the Port News that councillors and residents were advised last December that, based on engineering considerations, council staff and Transport for NSW supported a new alignment through Fernhill when upgrading the intersection near Clifton Drive.
"The new resolution requests council to consult again internally and with Transport for NSW, considering not just engineering issues but also the very evident environmental and geological constraints," she said.
Cr Intemann said if it was agreed that the Clifton intersection upgrade was genuinely feasible without the Fernhill deviation, then that deviation would likely be off the table in further decisions for the proposed airport access road.
But Cr Pinson said removing the contentious route would not give Lady Nelson Drive residents or other stakeholders, apart from Fernhill Road residents, peace of mind.
The mayor raised concerns from the NSW Jockeys' Association.
A letter from the association said it was their opinion that having a four-lane road alongside a precarious section of the racecourse would increase the risks to horse and jockey.
Cr Pinson noted a rescission motion to attempt to see some sense around the impact on residents in our area was not successful.
The mayor questioned the move at the August meeting when she said the studies were yet to be done through the business case which the deputy mayor so vehemently supported.
But Cr Intemann says the proposed July rescission looked to take Fernhill off the agenda arbitrarily, without properly considering implications.
Cr Geoff Hawkins said Oxley Highway, which was not a council road, was the biggest problem in the traffic network.
The airport access road has been separated from orbital road project investigations and is a stand alone priority for council.
The council is moving ahead with an orbital road strategic business case.
What else is making news, sport?
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, SIGN UP HERE.