Councillors perform U-turn in Aghadoe rezoning plan

KERRY county councillors have done a major U-turn on a vexed rezoning issue, following intense pressure from an angry community.

Councillors who voted recently to rezone a four-acre site for a storage depot, in the scenic Aghadoe area, near Killarney, have buckled under pressure from local residents.

The councillors told a public meeting of the Aghadoe Residents’ Group on Tuesday night that they would not be supporting the rezoning when it comes for a final decision, on April 2.

Present at the residents’ meeting were Fine Gael’s Tom Sheahan, who proposed the rezoning in January, and Independent Michael Healy-Rae, who seconded.

Up to 90 people were at the meeting and residents’ group spokesman Michael Rosney yesterday said they were “absolutely delighted” with the outcome.

“The councillors who changed their stance spoke out strongly against the rezoning. They probably voted for it initially because they didn’t have full information, or were not aware of the feelings of local residents,” he stated.

Mr Rosney also said 25 of the 27 members of Kerry County Council, who had been directly contacted by the residents, were now against the rezoning.

County councillors at Tuesday night’s meeting included Independent Danny Healy-Rae and Fianna Fáil’s Tom Fleming, who both had voted for the rezoning, and Fianna Fáil’s Colin Miller and Independent Brendan Cronin, who had both voted against it.

There, too, were Labour TD Breda Moynihan Cronin and Killarney Labour town councillor Sean O’Grady, who also spoke against the rezoning.

Mr Rosney said the case highlighted flaws in the zoning system. He said councillors were often voting on zonings about which they did not have enough information and were not aware of implications.

“Nobody in the Aghadoe area seemed to know anything about the rezoning of this land for a storage depot until it actually came before the council for a vote,” Mr Rosney said.

Councillors in Kerry regularly ignore the advice of senior planners on zoning and planning issues and, reportedly, sometimes vote to rezone parcels they have not seen and know little about.

The stance taken by the Aghadoe residents may force councillors to examine proposed zonings more closely.

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