Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Zoning is good - it protects our rights and gives us planning certainty - right?

click on the map to enlarge

Town planning is a good thing - if there's a legislated planning scheme in place, it's going to protect you from nasty surprises, like having someone decide they want to put a motocross track a couple of kilometres from you.  Well, not really.

The red circle on the zoning map is around the applicant's property.  The red lines are each 4km long, to provide a scale.  Rather a lot of properties within 4km, especially when you include housing subdivisions, not all of which are easy to see on the plan above.  Click on the zoning map to enlarge it or look for the small subdivisions in the Google Earth shot in the blog header. There are around 900 people living within 4km of the proposed motocross track property.

You'd have to wonder why any developer would bother lodging an application for a motocross track on a property less than 5km from a regional centre (Gatton) on land that is zoned Rural Uplands, Rural Agricultural and Rural General.  Not something that any of us in this part of the Lockyer Valley would have expected could ever happen.

You'd think that if you lived in or near a Rural Agricultural Zone you'd be safe from this kind of nonsene.  This is the best agricultural land in the Lockyer Valley, one of the top agricultural areas in the world.  Rural Uplands is another zone you'd expect to be pretty secure.  That's where the "special" natural areas are that aren't in some kind of protected status.  Have a look at the map below and see the way they lie on the margins of the two national parks - Lockyer National Park in the northern part of the Valley, and Glen Rock National Park in the south.

If you are in any of the Rural Agricultural or Rural Uplands zones in the zoning map on the right - this could happen to you as easily as it has happened to us.  Or maybe more easily, considering that our area is within 5km of the Gatton CBD and is a logical area for expansion of closer subdivision as the other available suitable land is taken up (there's very little remaining around the margins of Gatton).

Between Gatton and the proposed motocross land is ideal subdivision country - rolling hills, views north to the forested slopes in the Lockyer NP, cooling breezes coming down off the hills.  We've already got a reasonable network of roads and the sewage treatment plant is on this side of town, so the infrastructre costs of subdivision be lower.

Allowing this motocross facility to go ahead would alienate all the land in the area from subdivision - thus removing an important town planning option for the Council.

If you're at all worried that this could happen to you, or even that the current motocross track proposal could relocate to your area if it is refused here, or you just want to help us keep this proposal at bay - phone, write to, or email the Councillors who have been elected to represent your interests and tell them that a motocross facility at Adare, or in any of these zone types in the Lockyer Valley, just isn't on.

Here are their contact details: Mayor Steve Jones (sjones@lvrc.qld.gov.au, 0408 981736); Councillor Peter Friend (pfriend@lvrc.qld.gov.au, 0488 235 403); Councillor Janice Holstein (jholstein@lvrc.qld.gov.au, 0417 303 582); Councillor Jim McDonald (jmcdonald@lvrc.qld.gov.au, 0403 044 157); Councillor Kathy McLean (kmclean@lvrc.qld.gov.au, 0427 656 630); Deputy Mayor Tanya Milligan (tmilligan@lvrc.qld.gov.au, 0402 241 760); Councillor Derek Pingel (dpingel@lvrc.qld.gov.au, 0408 716 062).

The applicant's noise assessment - trust us, we're "professionals"

Just going through the application document preparing a summary overview of the problems with the proposed motocross "training facility" and had got to the Noise Assessment.

It's written mostly in technical jargon but occasionally they lapse into real English, particularly when they think they've got a statement to make that shows the motocross track in a good light.

I'd just got to the part where the Noise Assessment consultant is saying that the predicted noise levels are considered conservative as noise sources adopted in the modelling are all of bikes assumed to be under acceleration but in real life the bikes will at times be off the throttle (i.e. braking as the bikes come into a corner), which would result in lower overall noise emissions.” 

Mmm ... maybe.

Then an email came in from a friend who is an "experienced dirt bike rider, having competed in motocross and ‘enduro’ at a national level.  I was also involved with Motorcycling Queensland in an organisational capacity for many years.  This experience gives me a greater understanding of the noise pollution generated by a facility like the MTF. "

His view is that " The style of riding is a significant contributor to the noise level generated i.e. using full throttle in an irregular manner, as compared to ‘smooth riding’, creates the largest impact.  This is an essential element of motocross riding."

Over the years I've come to the view that a basic principle in advertising and public relations is that if you want to sell a "product" which is actually pretty crappy, take its negative features and say that the exact opposite is true.  The same kind of thinking seems to have invaded professional fields, or are noise assessments being done by public relations consultants?

Friday, 26 December 2014

Nice idea - just in totally the WRONG PLACE

When I say "nice idea" I'm referring to the idea of a small, one MX track, training facility for anyone who wants to learn to ride an MX bike, or to improve their riding.  That's a good thing. BUT it's still incredibly noisy - not "ordinary" noisy. Very very noisy.  Have a look at the page above on what an MX bike is.

It still involves a lot of traffic to and from the track - in the case of this one, up to 150 vehicles coming and going each day it's in operation - on narrow country roads with unsealed shoulders and through local intersections not designed for this level of traffic.  Traffic after 9.00pm on four week nights and on an unspecified number of weekends.

You'd think that this would be the sort of activity that would be sited somewhere out in the countryside where there are big properties and few houses.  Not in this case.  We've calculated that there are about 900 people living within four kilometres of the property where the track is proposed to be constructed, and more than 300 of these are under 19 years old, so mostly likely to be in school or early childhood.
--> [1] --> [2]  Can you imaging getting young children to bed with an MX soundtrack going.  Or older children concentrating on their homework.  Or shiftworkers trying to get to sleep in the evening.  That's not MX track country - that's the outer edges of a country town.
In fact the property is less than five kilometres from the Gatton CBD.

It also involves the construction and maintenance of an MX track - if you don't have any experience of MX track maintenance I'd suggest going to the Qld Moto Park website and having a look for photos of work on their tracks.  Or better still, have a look at this video for a look at a variety of MX tracks and track construction.  An MX track is an ongoing earthworks project, requiring regular "dressing" of the surface so that it doesn't develop ruts and holes that are not only dangerous but prevent riders from reaching top speeds.  When an MX track is proposed to be put adjacent to one of the least developed creeks (Redbank Creek) where it flows out of the Lockyer National Park forests, then there's every likelihood that if large amounts of sediment and other pollution doesn't get into the creek on a regular basis, it surely will when we get one of the massive rainfall events that seem to be getting more and more common lately.

Redbank Creek already floods and there are businesses (employing more than 200 people) and housing estates, all within only a few kilometres downstream who already get affected by floods from Redbank Creek.  If sediment from this development raises the stream bed or otherwise stops floodwaters from getting away there will be much more severe flooding.

So, it's not an anti-bike thing.  Hell, I rode bikes for more than 20 years, probably about eight different bikes, everything from a step-through to trail bikes and high-speed touring bikes.

[1] Sources: http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/censushome.nsf/home/quickstats and Google Earth imagery and overlays to locate houses and properties within specified radii of the properties.

[2] Compiled using the 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census Data for the localities closest in proximity to the proposed development.  Where census data is not available at the necessary scale for a locality, extrapolations have been made from an adjacent locality close to the proposed development.