Port Stephens councillors defer 39-lot subdivision to May meeting

TALL TREES: Developer Darren Sampson at his Medowie property where he is proposing to develop 39 lots. Councillors have deferred a decision.
TALL TREES: Developer Darren Sampson at his Medowie property where he is proposing to develop 39 lots. Councillors have deferred a decision.

A concern over dust, noise and the impact on flora and fauna has prompted Port Stephens councillors to defer a $20 million, 39-lot housing development in Medowie.

Darren Sampson is one of five Port Stephens families who have invested in the Tall Trees Estate, proposing to build a mix of duplex, townhouse and stand-alone living on the 5.5-hectare Medowie Road site.

Mr Sampson has owned his property for 20 years, which forms part of the overall project.

"In 2007 the Medowie Strategy was published as a draft, which was the year we started working on a development application at the same time other developments commenced, such the Woolworths site, council's land and another lot to our north," Mr Sampson said.

"After a few issues we were forced to start again in 2011, but is was to no avail. Finally in 2015 we had meetings with the council during the planning of Peppertree and Muir street extensions. For three years we worked with planners on the current DA which was lodged in November 2017."

Mr Sampson admitted it has been a long haul to get to this point. "Over the past 12 months with the various issues of drainage and the koala corridor, the development has been reduced from 60 lots to 39 lots."

Mr Sampson said internal roads with connections to both Peppertree Road and Medowie Road would cost in the vicinity of $1.5 million, and include left hand only entry and exit points onto Medowie Road for safety reasons.

One of the major concerns from neighbours has been the removal of 108 koala feed trees. Mr Sampson said that these would be replaced and that the bulk of koala trees on the property would be retained.

"The koala corridor is 93m by 150m and we are replanting 1200 trees in this area, including more than 400 koala feed trees."

Neighbour Tanya Bunk, who addressed the councillors at the Tuesday night meeting, said she had purchased her property, which shares a boundary fence with the Tall Trees development, unaware of the planned development on the site.

"I was not aware it was zoned residential, neither was my conveyancer. What's more a council planner had indicated that the property was koala habitat and unlikely to be developed."

Ms Bunk said she feared the impact the development would have on not only the local koala habitat, but also kangaroos and native birds in the area. "Then there is the dust and noise impacts."

Cr John Nell said that he was concerned about the loss of trees on the sub-division and warned council to ensure that any replanted trees are not the species that would rip up adjoining kerb and guttering. "We need to be wise with the choice of trees and the potential damage their roots could cause over time."

Cr Giacomo Arnott raised concerns about the entry and exit points.

Mr Sampson said they had received positive feedback since expressions of interest opened in December 2017.

"The development is a boutique release in the town centre, close to shops, schools and services. There are various lots for sale, and we have seven developments by Rawson Homes selling as house and land packages. We can provide a three-bedroom home starting from $425,000."

"The maintenance-free lots are perfect for people looking for lifestyle flexibility - accessibility is brilliant."

Councillors agreed unanimously to defer their decision to the next meeting of council on May 14.