A proposal to have lands re-zoned for development by three county councillors from south Kilkenny was described as not credible by the county manager and senior planning officials. Despite high level opposition the councillors pushed for a vote on the issue.
Fine Gael Councillors Ann-Maria Irish, Pat Dunphy and Fidilis O’Doherty argued in favour of re-zoning 11 hectares of land in Ferrybank, close to Waterford Golf Club, in return for a commitment from the owners of the land, Purcell Brotheres, to invest €700,000 in the sewage scheme in the area. The councillors proposed a motion that the land be zoned for phase one development. Phase one zoning would prioritise the development of the land in the immediate future.
The motion to re-zone the parcel of land was made during a presentation by Senior Planner with Kilkenny County Council Dennis Malone. Mr Malone had been tasked with reducing the amount of land zoned as part of the Ferrybank/Belleview local area plan from 270 hectares of land zoned for development to 27 hectares. The reduction is to bring the amount of zoned land back into line with projected growth of the area and has been recommended by the Department of the Environment.
“The developers are committed to implementing a waste water management plan that could be of huge benefit to the surrounding environment, and I would like to propose that the land be zoned for phase one,” said Cllr Irish. “We have a sewage issue in the area and this may or may not solve that problem. There is a proposal associated with this that might solve the sewage issue in the Mullinabro, Newrath area and I would propose that the council look at this very seriously,” said Cllr Pat Dunphy who seconded the motion. Cllr Dunphy argued in favour of zoning the land and then enforcing conditions on the developers at the planning stage. He said that when the planning application for development on the land came into the council they could attach conditions to force the developers to build the sewage works.
The Chaiman of the Council, Paul Cuddihy said that developers had made commitments that had ended up in a lot of broken dreams in the past. He said until the developers were nailed down there was no point in considering the proposal. The chairman pointed out that zoning more land would also be in direct violation of the Department of the Environment’s recommendations. “We’re the council on the ground and we are more in tune with what is going on on the ground,” said Cllr Dunphy.
The County Manager, Joe Crockett, described the proposal submitted by the Purcell brothers/Malone O’Regan, as not credible. “We are already significantly over zoned in south Kilkenny. There is a major technical problem already around the proposals being made with the developer and there is no agreement. They haven’t come back to us since 2010. It is not a credible proposition,” he said.
Labour Cllr Tomas Breathnach, who is also from the Piltown Electoral area said “I laud the objective of the proposal but I think zoning is not the way to achieve it.” Cllr Breathnach said that he was aware of a letter received by Cllr John Brennan that indicated that the sewage issue may be resolved in the New Year by an increase in grants for community sewage schemes.
A vote was taken by all the councillors presented which resulted in a final decision being put back to the December meeting.