Bethania crematorium approved

LOGAN City Council has approved a controversial crematorium at Bethania but imposed some stringent conditions in a crafty move that means the developer has to foot the bill to contest it in the courts.

Bethania residents protest on November 21.

Bethania residents protest on November 21.

The move was made in tandem with a second motion that heralds the council intends a revision of planning laws to make crematoriums ‘impact assessible’, opening similar applications in the future to public comment and a council vote.

Bethania residents thought it a sick joke a crematorium would be built opposite their retirement village. They staged protests holding signs with messages like “We’re not dead yet.”

IN THE HOUSE: Former Logan mayor John Freeman. December 4, 2018.

IN THE HOUSE: Former Logan mayor John Freeman. December 4, 2018.

James Family Funerals Trust lodged the application on October 5 to build a crematorium on 1/3-13 High Road. The proposal is consistent with the Logan Planning Scheme 2015 with the area classed as a mixed light industrial and residential zone. James Family Funeral’s Anthony James was contacted for comment but declined to make one.  “I’ll have the publicist send something out to everyone in a couple of days,” he said.

John Freeman, a former mayor who led the city of Logan from 2000-2006, was in the gallery.

“It’s the best result for both the council and residents, though residents won’t think so – at least not yet. That’s what I’ll tell my Mum. My parents live near the crematorium. I’m here to see how it all turns out,” he said.

Mr Freeman offered this commentary.

“Look, it’s all pretty involved but that’s why I say people should come … and see how politics and how the council works,” he said.

“If the vote had been to reject the recommendation of the officers … it would go to court and the court would make the conditions and those conditions would not be anywhere as strict as those put in place today.”

Mr Freeman said the motion that heralded a change to the planning scheme would make crematoriums  “impact assessable” changing town planning laws inherited by Logan. Bethania has been part of both the old Albert Shire Council and Gold Coast.

“This allows a matter to be advertised. There is community input as of right and that it goes to the council for an approval.”

“Before they were by definition code accessible. Providing the development ticked all the boxes and requirements as per the code, it just goes through and never comes to council.”

The council today adopted a report by officers to approve the crematorium but imposed strict conditions in regards to the testing of mercury emissions, landscaping and aesthetics.

The vote was split five to four. Those in favour were councillors Russell Lutton, Steve Swenson, Laurie Smith, Trevina Schwarz and Jon Raven. Those against were acting mayor Cherie Dalley, councillors Laurie Koranski, Jennie Breene and Phil Pidgeon. Councillors Lisa Bradley and Darren Power did not attend.

It was a fiesty meeting, with every councillor putting an opinion for or against before a public gallery that was packed to the rafters. Some got applause; others “tut tuts”.

Planning and economic committee chair Cr Russell Lutton said the decision to bring the matter before the full council was unusual but decided upon because of the high volume of complaints.

He said Bethania residents would not like his vote, but the council could not reject the application because it was consistent with the planning scheme.

Acting mayor Cherie Dalley has been representing Bethania since the suspension of Cr Stacey Macintosh. She said she stood with residents.

Mr Freeman said the result may have been very different had absent councillors attended and there was still a long way to go before the heralded planning changes were implemented.