The Illaroo Road stormwater redirection project at Lake Cathie has been deferred until an assessment of coastal hazard protection options has been identified.
Urgent community engagement will go ahead about the project after a mayoral minute went before an extraordinary meeting of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council on Monday [March 7].
Councillors will have an urgent briefing to consider the coastal hazard protection options for Lake Cathie and Illaroo Road, and specifically the Illaroo Road stormwater redirection project.
The decision follows a community meeting attended by mayor Peta Pinson and Crs Danielle Maltman and Rachel Sheppard.
Cr Pinson said the vast majority at the meeting indicated they don't want to see the stormwater redirection project go ahead on the road for various reasons and the others, who aren't living predominantly on Illaroo Road, don't want to see the stormwater enter the lake for fear of pollution.
"Given since then there have been a number of emails that have come in from residents living in the area that felt they didn't know about the meeting, they didn't get to attend or a few that were there didn't get to have their say, they are quite concerned and those people do want to see the works go ahead," she said.
Cr Pinson said the council needed to pause for a moment and go out to community engagement to find out exactly what residents wanted.
Cr Sheppard spoke of wide views at the meeting and a wide range of issues discussed.
She said her concern was on the basis of that discussion, people came up with a particular point of view and she didn't perceive it was the vast majority.
Cr Sheppard raised a concern about what precedent the council set if it deferred progress on a million dollar project which had been undertaken with due process, as far as she was aware.
More community consultation was called for, she said.
Cr Lisa Intemann said the council had a number of outstanding timing matters to deal with, but nevertheless, she saw no reason not to take a small amount of time to get some community feedback and to brief councillors so a decision could be made going forward.
Engagement is proposed in March to gauge community views about the stormwater redirection project with results to be presented to a councillor briefing on April 14.
The council will determine after the community consultation how the stormwater erosion is addressed. One option is to incorporate the stormwater solution into the broader coastal hazard protection project options which are intended to address the beach erosion and protection of Illaroo Road.
Lake Cathie Progress Association president Vern Warner said the progress association, which was not consulted, was shocked by the last minute delay in starting the stormwater redirection work.
"Just get it [stormwater redirection] done because who knows when the next east coast low is coming in and it will further erode that area," he said.
The stormwater redirection project is part of the bigger picture of Lake Cathie coastal erosion management.
A rock revetment wall with sand nourishment was identified as the preferred option in 2013 to address the coastal erosion.
After examining feedback on funding the revetment wall project in April 2021, the council agreed to review the problem and possible coastal protection solutions and ensure consultation with the community to identify preferred actions.
A further report was requested at the April 2021 meeting outlining the coastal protection options available for Illaroo Road.
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