South Murwillumbah flood land switch floated by council
MURWILLUMBAH business owners have been asked to pack up shop and move to a new industrial area away from the floodplain.
Tweed Shire Council has sent letters to 133 landowners asking for expressions of interest for its Land Swap program.
South Murwillumbah industrial businesses were inundated with water when Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie caused major flooding in the Tweed River catchment in March, 2017.
Council chief executive Troy Green said many businesses went "to the wall” while others would not survive a similar catastrophe.
He said the council was that it could not build a levy wall to protect the businesses "because they are on the wrong side of the river”.
"The best thing we can do is get businesses out of the flood plain,” he said.
To do this, the council has bought land 4km from the town centre at an area known as Industry Central and is offering landowners a swap.
Under the plan, flood-prone businesses with sheds, warehouses and buildings will be offered 20 per cent more land to make up for losing their structures. They will also be offered 10 years to transition to the new area and infrastructure charges will be waived for the construction of new buildings.
But for the 133 landowners, the council has only between 15-20 places at the new estate.
Mr Green said a selection panel would choose landowners whose current sites acted like dam walls during a flood.
Council land development project manager Ray Musgrave said the program would mitigate against future floods caused by climate change.
"The second objective is to stimulate the economy ... (as it is) estimated the money multiplier from the $6.6 million investment will be about $20 million,” he said.
But business owners are hesitant about moving, saying the cost of building new workshops and the distance to the CBD were the main hurdles.
Cr Pryce Allsop, whose homewares business is in the flood zone, said the problem was getting businesses to rebuild their infrastructure.
"We are procrastinating and have to decide whether it is financially beneficial for us to leave,” he said.
JH Williams building supplies company managing director Bruce Williams said he backed the council's plan.
"As for the costs with relocating, we are looking at the longer term benefits to recoup those costs,” he said.
The council will hold an information session at its Murwillumbah office on December 11 at 5pm.