OUR SAY: Rezoning should be judged on own merits

LAST month, we encouraged Orange City Council to consider public submissions on the contentious Orange Airport industrial business park proposal urgently and we’re pleased to see that this week, they will do so.

It will be no mean feat for councillors given that there are 133 submissions over the course of about 500 pages.

Some important issues seem to have been dealt with.

There were many fears from objectors industrial land could mean heavy industry.

After repeated public reassurances heavy industry, the kind considered “offensive” or involving hazardous chemicals, would not be the targeted business for the area, the council has changed the rezoning to light industry to clarify its position.

TODAY’S STORY: Still on the table – council likely to stick to guns despite objections

We also learned from NSW Farmers that while strategic agricultural land should be protected, parcels as fragmented as those around Spring Hill would not constitute a significant loss.  

With Blayney and Cabonne councils objecting to the proposal, the council has also argued quite soundly of the need to replace lost industrial opportunities at Towac and Clergate due to residential development.

Expressions of interest were held for the second site, at the former abattoir, with none found.

What we don’t know any more about is the mooted project said to be capable of creating 650 jobs.

There is no dispute that the number of jobs proposed is much-needed, but residents cannot be blamed for feeling quite apprehensive not knowing exactly what business it could be, although rumours of a high-tech abattoir have been circulating for some time.

We have said before that the entire rezoning proposal could be sold to the public far easier if people knew what the business proposal was.

The non-disclosure agreement has been called a double-edged sword for that reason – the company involved could be protecting its competitive interests, but as a result, the business park proposal could fail if people don’t see the value.

Mayor John Davis flagged at a recent council meeting the proposal might not even occur. 

With the degree of uncertainty involved, the suggestion councillors should decide on the rezoning on its own merits this Thursday, independent of the flagged jobs, is a sound one.

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