Residents angered by possible change to GrainX zoning
ALLORA residents are up in arms over proposed zoning changes that could enable contentious agricultural operation GrainX to expand.
The land at 20 Herbert St and 22 South St - the GrainX and Denny's Engineering and Welding facilities, currently classed as low-density residential - is proposed to be rezoned to industrial.
Mayor Tracy Dobie said the proposed amendments were part of a review of the council's planning scheme.
The facility was approved for development by Southern Downs Regional Council at the former GrainCo site, despite being zoned residential, with the council citing "lawful prior use.”
Residents of Herbert St have advocated for changes to the operation, citing dust and noise pollution as a major disturbance to their livelihoods.
Mark and Kerry Smith, who live opposite the facility, said the real estate market would continue to suffer if the change to zoning went ahead.
"House prices have been plummeting over the last five years and nothing's been done,” Mr Smith said.
"We tried to sell and had our place on the market for about eight months with no luck.
"Only four people looked at the house during that time. It's been hard enough to sell as is, and we could lose even more value if this goes through.
"The first two to three years they were loading grain until 10 or 11 at night so the noise and the dust was around the clock.
"Now they only go between 7am and 6pm but they need to control the dust and the noise.”
After learning about her neighbours' struggles to sell, fellow Herbert St resident Kay Lucas said she had not attempted to put her house on the market.
"We thought, why muck around with real estate if we're not able to get back the money it's worth,” Mrs Lucas said.
"It definitely feels like you're living in a prison on your own.
"You have to keep the western side closed up because of the dust and the noise, you just get sick of the sore eyes and throat and headaches.”
Planning portfolio councillor Neil Meiklejohn assured the proposed amendments would not change current approvals.
"The amendments are just to change the zoning to align with the current use of the site,” Cr Meiklejohn said.
"They would not affect activities on the site nor would they change the current approvals.
"Most of the complaints we have received about operations at GrainX are environmental issues.
"Those issues will continue to be investigated, and won't be affected by any changes to the planning.
"In terms of zoning the sites as industrial, I don't see why that would have any affect on housing values.
"Fact sheets and maps on all the proposed amendments are available on the council website, and if people have any concerns they are invited to make a submission.”
The Daily News phoned GrainX CEO Chris Hood but he declined comment on the record.
The council is welcoming feedback on the proposals, with full details available online and at council offices.
Submissions must be made by 5pm on March 31.
For the full details or to make an electronic submission, go to sdrc.qld.gov.au or phone 1300697372.