Council seeks to cash in
POTENTIAL investors will soon be able to view a slick video promoting the attractions of Gracemere Industrial Area - the tract of land to be opened up by a $50 million flyover from the Capricorn Hwy.
Capricorn Enterprise's marketing pack says there's potential for $500 million of direct business investment and the creation of 2500 jobs as the region cashes in on the resources boom out west.
It is touted as Rockhampton's one and only opportunity to grab a sizeable slice of the billions sloshing around the creation of new coal mines in the Bowen, Galilee and Surat basins and an ideal location for transport, engineering and other service industries.
But there is controversy over the details.
In January, Rockhampton Regional Council applied to the Queensland Government for a Temporary Local Planning Instrument to change the designation of a parcel of land on the fringes of Gracemere.
It was granted in just eight days, on the day before the state government went into caretaker mode.
There are 50 residential blocks in this parcel and until the council's request was granted they were zoned rural village.
Residents there claim the re-zoning as medium impact industrial land will destroy the value of their houses and leave them isolated in a sea of industry where businesses will be able to operate 24 hours a day.
The ministerial declaration strips them of their powers to raise a legal challenge and they question why the council felt the need to use legislation normally restricted to emergencies.
They say there was no prior consultation and the change makes no economic sense as the land in question is prone to flooding and much too small to house the big industrial developments envisaged.
They are pinning their hopes on the sense of fair play among councillors who still have to formally endorse the planning instrument to enact it.
And they hope to persuade councillors that there is no need to rush this measure through, especially as they have had no opportunity to plead their case.
They argue they are not against industrial development, but believe there is no need to inflict disruptive development on the western edge of Gracemere's fast-growing residential area.
The council says that it sought the ministerial diktat to provide planning certainty for local property owners and prospective industries currently seeking to establish in CQ.
"The urgency is required to ensure new uses that conflict with the planned industrial development do not establish there and to ensure economic development opportunities in the period between now and the adoption of a new planning scheme in 2013," it said.
Meanwhile mayor Brad Carter has organised a briefing session for all state and local council election candidates for 4.30pm on Wednesday, so they can learn the council's plans.
"I am appealing for them to stop rubbishing the project. It is so vital to the region that it shouldn't be debated for political gain," he said.
That meeting will be followed by a public meeting at Gracemere Community Hall to "inform affected land owners and allow them to voice their opinions to the council."
It is likely that the council will vote on the issue on March 13.