New properties built in the escarpment at the back of Farmborough Heights will come with a written warning about the smell of the nearby rubbish tip, Whytes Gully.
On Monday night, a majority of Wollongong councillors approved a developer’s rezoning request, paving the way for 30 large new properties in the foothills along the western part of Farmborough Road.
However, with the homes to be built well within a kilometre of the Whytes Gully waste dump, the council will alert new residents to the potential for bad smells.
At the meeting, a spokesman for 172 existing Farmborough Heights residents highlighted that there were already the offensive odours emanating the city’s waste dump and urged the councillors not to pave the way for the subdivision.
Chairman of the Farmborough Heights Action Group Eddy Uitterlinden said residents held a number of environmental concerns because the land at the back of their homes was the “last buffer between the city and the escarpment”.
He said they also held major concerns over how new residents would be affected by the smell of waste emanating from the dump, which was already problematic for hundreds of residents.
According to Wollongong council, there were 38 complaints made in the last reporting year (to May 28) about environmental concerns over the tip.
Only eight complaints have been received since then, a council spokeswoman said, with five of those made in March.
Debating the zoning proposal on Monday, a majority of councillors said they believed the new subdivision was in line with the council’s strategic plan for the Farmborough Heights and Mount Kembla escarpment. They thought it achieved a balance between competing views of residents and the developer.
They upheld a motion from Liberal councillor Michelle Blicavs to send the rezoning plan to the NSW Planning department, as well as a suggestion from Labor’s Ann Martin to place a notation on the properties’ 149 certificates.
These certificates are issued by the council to give information on how properties are affected by problems like land contamination, sea level rise or road widening.
Greens councillor George Takacs supported Cr Blicavs motion, but noted the NSW EPA had warned complaints about the tip could increase if the housing plan went ahead.
Quoting from an EPA report, he said “The council must consider the current and future liabilities that may exist in relation to the operation of the [tip] and the EPA may take regulatory action if the [facility’s licence] is not complied with at all times”.
Crs Jill Merrin and Greg Petty voted against the plan.
Councillor Vicki Curran originally moved that it should not go ahead.
However, this was voted down by Labor and Liberal councillors, along with the Lord Mayor. Cr Curran left the room before the debate on the issue was resolved.