It was standing room only in Goulburn courthouse on Tuesday as parties thrashed out an Islamic Cemetery proposal.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council, some 17 residents and an action group rammed home their opposition to the 11,000-plot project at Marulan.
The Al Mabarrat Society is challenging the council’s December 2015 refusal of the project, off Highland Way. Tuesday’s Land and Environment Court session followed several aborted hearings. It was a chance for residents and the council to air concerns ahead of two days’ legal argument in Sydney.
Mayor Bob Kirk told the court the council and community had been “frustrated by the (project’s) lack of information”. Further details that had “dribbled in” had only added to confusion, he said.
“It is unfortunate that the proponents have gone down this path of community disregard and disrespect, and this aspect alone should be a signal to the court that this application be rejected,” he told Justice Susan Dixon.
“The proponents have never sought to engage with our community in any manner whatsoever, but have chosen to impose their wants on Goulburn Mulwaree residents without … consideration of their needs or the impact.”
He reinforced the council’s opposition on the grounds a service hall planned for the site was too large to be “ancillary” to the development and was therefore not permitted in the zone.
Cr Kirk maintained the council had adequate facilities to meet cemetery needs for the next 30 years.
“Our community also provides and maintains their needs for meeting places and places of worship in the appropriately designated areas. This is not an appropriately designated area,” he said.
The Mayor also argued fire control measures were “inadequate” and not inclusive of the community.
Residents and the council have strongly objected to traffic arrangements. Cr Kirk said the Society’s plan to divert vehicles left off Highland Way into Marulan to then travel north on the Hume Highway, was an “engineering solution” only.
“There was no attempt by the proponents to discuss, let alone consider the impacts on all those affected residents and other commuters,” he said.
“...The community remains opposed to this proposal for these and other reasons and ask the question: What community benefit would this development bring to our district and to our local government area. The answer is nil.
“The proponents have continually shown no regard or concern to the community to which they now seek to be included, however the end cost would be considerable.”
The Marulan Residents Group also addressed the court, represented by barrister Peter Rigg.
Marulan district woman Bel Agren said residents echoed many of Cr Kirk’s points, plus flora and fauna, groundwater and indigenous heritage impacts.
Ms Agren too objected to the “four kilometre round trip” that would be added on to a northbound Hume Highway trip from Highland Way if the Society’s traffic solution was approved. The Roads and Maritime Service did not want traffic to turn right on to the highway from Highland Way on safety grounds.
In response, the Society proposed traffic treatment at the Brayton Road/ George Street intersection in Marulan, enabling vehicles to travel north. Cr Kirk said the applicant had not spoken to the council about this work and it would send “another 1000 vehicles per day” into Marulan.
Mrs Agren told the court the cemetery was not in the public interest.
Speaking afterward she said she felt positive about the court outcome.
“It’s a prohibited development and it should be a no-brainer … It will be an outrage if it goes through,” she said.
The Society’s legal counsel did not present to the court but asked questions of some speakers.
The court was expected to reserve judgement on Thursday following the Sydney hearings.