Councillors back rezonings despite CEO’s opposition

Ger Dollard

Clare County Council yesterday voted through a number of last-minute, contentious rezonings against the recommendations of its acting chief executive, Ger Dollard.

At a special meeting to adopt the draft Clare County Development Plan 2017-23, councillors voted in favour of zoning parcels of land in the south-east and south of the county for housing — against the planning advice from Mr Dollard.

Cllr Cathal Crowe (FF) led the opposition against two of the three proposed rezonings, stating that one of the three, at the village of Meelick, “was the talk of the pub over the weekend and everyone knows who is for and who is against it”.

One of the contentious rezonings related to lands owned by Eveleen Whelan at Blackwater, Ardnacrusha.

Ms Whelan was seeking 12 acres of the 24-acre plot to be included for low density residential development.

In his report, Mr Dollard said the quantum of zoned land, at 6.7 hectares, to meet the population target for Ardnacrusha during the lifetime of the plan has already been provided for.

“To exceed the quantum by zoning further lands would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area,” he said.

Cllr PJ Ryan (Ind) yesterday advanced the case for Mr Dollard’s recommendation to be put aside and the lands zoned for housing.

Mr Crowe said: “I oppose this rezoning and we have already discussed it three times at our own meeting. I don’t believe that this should come in at the 11th hour.”

However, mainly driven on by the Fianna Fáil members of the council, councillors voted in favour of the plan, 11-6, with seven members abstaining.

In relation to lands owned by Kieran Aherne at Meelick in south-east Clare, the landowner was seeking the rezoning of 4.5 hectares of land to “low density residential”.

In his report, Mr Dollard said there were already four parcels of undeveloped land zoned for low density residential within the current boundary of the area.

He stated: “I have further concerns in relation to the location of the subject lands on the periphery of the settlement. I consider it preferable to develop lands close to the core of the village before peripheral lands are zoned for development.”

Mr Crowe told the meeting that the zoning will lead to further sprawl in the area.

Supporting the case that the lands be rezoned for housing, Cllr James Breen (Ind) said rezoning the lands doesn’t mean that planning will be granted.

Mr Dollard intervened to state that the lands are isolated and should not be rezoned.

Mr Dollard said the councillors had to present a planning rationale for the lands to be rezoned. However, 16 councillors voted through the rezoning.

The councillors also voted through a rezoning of 2.7 hectares of land owned by Michael Enright at Drumline, Newmarket-on-Fergus, for housing — against the advice of Mr Dollard.


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