Hawkesbury Council defers Freemans Reach flower farm decision

Maurice Geeke, of Freemans Reach, opposes to the flower farm because he worries about chemical spray drift and spoke at Hawkesbury Council on November 14. Picture: Geoff Jones
Maurice Geeke, of Freemans Reach, opposes to the flower farm because he worries about chemical spray drift and spoke at Hawkesbury Council on November 14. Picture: Geoff Jones

A DECISION on a flower farm at Freemans Reach has been deferred for two weeks by Hawkesbury Council, and will come back before Council at the November 28 meeting.

As The Gazette reported in July, Polito Flower Farms intends to start a farm on a parcel of land in Freemans Reach, and neighbors of the proposed farm, who live on Panorama Crescent, are not happy about it.

The item came before Hawkesbury Council on November 14, and it was decided to defer it until the November 28 meeting.

Several residents were unhappy and said they were not notified it was to come before the November 14 meeting, and several councillors said they deserved a chance to speak on it.

Greens councillor Danielle Wheeler also said she was concerned about the use of chemicals on the site, however, Joe Polito said the use of chemicals would be limited on the farm.

The vote to defer the item was won 9-2. Mayor Lyons-Buckett, deputy Mayor Calvert, Cr Ross, Cr Rasmussen, Cr Garrow, Cr Reynolds, Cr Wheeler, Cr Kotlash and Cr Zamprogno voted to defer.

Cr Richards and Cr Tree voted against deferral. Cr Conolly was not at the meeting.

At the meeting, Mr Polito and a representative addressed Council about a number of changes they had made to the DA.

The proposed farming site in July. Picture: Geoff Jones

The proposed farming site in July. Picture: Geoff Jones

The land, at Kurmond Road in Freemans Reach, is zoned RU2 Rural Landscape by Council, and a farm is entirely acceptable on the property. 

The DA was recommended by Council staff to be approved, subject to a number of conditions.

Mr Polito said they had moved the heaviest concentration of flower growing to the Eastern side of the property, as far away from Panorama Crescent as possible.

He added that they would plant a lot of vegetation on the Panorama Crescent boundary, to stop or heavily reduce spray drift from chemicals.

However, he also stressed he did not think spray drift would be a problem, because most chemicals would be applied by handheld devices.

Mr Polito’s assurances, however, did not sway Mr Geake. He said that if there was spray drift and it did cause damage to residents and their children, it may be many years before it was detected.

“In the 1950s it probably wasn't going to be a problem to build houses with asbestos,” he said.

“We are going to be constantly exposed to this spectre.”

One of the consent conditions of the DA is that no spraying occur on hot or windy days.

Cr Paul Rasmussen described the DA as a perfect example of the dilemma Council faced when decided between the rights of residents and the rights of farmers in the Hawkesbury.

“[This] highlights the difficulties of rampant urban sprawl into agricultural areas without proper investigation of what the Hawkesbury wants to be over time,” he said.

“[In the past] we've allowed urbanised development [on old agricultural land] and then months later, we’ve got a bunfight in here where people have built nice houses, they have kids running around and farmers are trying to farm.”