Coopers Island Road at Bodalla will remain a public road after Eurobodalla Council decided on Tuesday not to sell the road reserve.
Coopers Island Road has been a public road since the 1930s and is used by the public to access Bowns Creek, a designated “Recreational Fishing Haven” for fishing and kayaking. It also dissects a rural property, formerly used for dairy cattle, now used for Wagyu beef production by its new owners.
The Council earlier this year received a request from the landowner to buy the road reserve, citing conflicts between their Wagyu beef production and its use by recreational users. The property owners erected a gate across the road at the Princes Highway to prevent their cattle jumping the cattle grid, as advised by a Council ranger.
The sale of the land was considered on Tuesday by Councillors, who heard presentations from 13 community members who were opposed, as well as the landowners themselves. Council also received a petition to retain Coopers Island Road signed by more than 200 community members.
On Tuesday Council resolved not to close or sell Coopers Island Road to the property owner and to allocate $40,000 to realign the road back onto the road reserve, as the road itself currently deviates onto private property. Council will also install regulatory and advisory signage in the area.
Council will write to the landowner requesting their fence across the road near the causeway be removed. If they do not comply, Council will remove the fence and relocate it to the correct alignment.
Meanwhile, Council is considering the landowner’s application for the gate at the Princes Highway. Council will make a decision on the application by Tuesday 22 June, until which time the gate can stay.
Council’s General Manager Dr Catherine Dale said recreational users could continue to use the road, with respect to the landowner, who is trying to run a business.
“Yesterday’s decision confirms the landowner must accommodate the fishers’ rights to access and fish on the causeway,” she said.
“Similarly, the fishers and the public must accommodate the landowner’s right to move machinery and drive stock along the road and use it generally.”