THE council has again received a flood of submissions about a proposed Islamic Cemetery at Marulan.
Director of Planning and Development Louise Wakefield confirmed that some 120 public submissions had been received regarding the proposed cemetery off Highland Way.
The Al Mabarrat Society is proposing the $1,730,000 project across 3.45 hectares, amid continuing controversy.
The Council refused the initial DA last July on the basis that it failed to demonstrate suitable access arrangements; that the floor area of the proposed prayer hall exceeded that reasonably required for burial services; that the applicant had failed to demonstrate the cemetery would not adversely impact on surface and groundwater runoff; and it was not in the public interest.
At that time council planners were frustrated by outstanding information, which they had requested several times.
The Society has not followed through on a threatened challenge to the NSW Land and Environment Court following the refusal.
Instead it has re-lodged the DA for the cemetery and a 670 square metre service hall. The hall was previously proposed to be 1476sqm, sparking community questions on whether it was for worship and large meetings.
The original $500,000 value for the overall project has also been revised up to $1.73m.
Mrs Wakefield said all requested documentation had been furnished. Out of the 120 odd public submissions, two were in support.
“It appears the main issues that are raised as areas of concern are traffic (both) within Highland Way and at the intersection of Highland Way and the Hume Highway, potential contamination of groundwater and water quality within the catchment, social impacts, and that the proposal is not in the public interest,” she said.
The DA has also been referred to government agencies. The Roads and Maritime Service supported the change of access to Highland Way but was concerned that a gate at the property’s Hume Highway entrance would remain open “for emergency purposes.”
“RMS…considers this arrangement unfavourable,” network safety manager Adam Berry wrote.
“It is likely to cause confusion among visitors and the direct Hume Highway access is likely to be used instead of the preferred Highland Way access.”
RMS has called for the gate to be locked at all times and only opened in emergency situations. Last month the Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA) again said the amount of information in the DA was “insufficient” to allow an adequate assessment of water quality impact. It called for stormwater quality modelling for the access off Highland Way to the car park and for a connecting road.
Mrs Wakefield said Council was awaiting further comments from the Authority.
NSW Health, NSW Office of Water and the Pejar Local Aboriginal Land Council are yet to respond.
“We have also sought comment from the Tallong Community Focus Group and Marulan and District Chamber of Commerce,” she said.
“Currently the clock has stopped on the assessment following a request for additional information, and a copy of the submissions will now be forwarded to the referral agencies.
“The applicant will also be given an opportunity to review and respond to the submissions received prior to assessment of the DA being finalised.”
She could not say when Council might consider the application.
Meantime, residents have not given up on their opposition. Some recently rallied outside Goulburn Plaza (formerly Centro) holding placards stating ‘no mosque’ and ‘protect our environment.’
Planning consultant for the Society, Richard Smyth has previously denied the prayer hall would be a mosque. It is designed to hold 150 people for funeral services. Mr Symth has said an average 10 burials a year would be held at the cemetery.