KU-RING-GAI Council has rejected planning applications for an eruv in St Ives.
The decision represents a near-fatal blow for the eruv, after councillors voted against two development applications to put up 36 poles needed for the unobtrusive Jewish boundary.
Planning advice to the councillors was to approve the 27 poles on private land and reject the nine poles due to be put up on public land, but councillors rejected both development applications.
Northern Eruv’s chairman David Guth said he didn’t expect both applications to be rejected and the case would now move to the Land and Environment Court on September 6, where an appeal was pending.
“We have worked hard to ensure that we have complied with all the regulations and requirements as stipulated by council,” Guth said. “We worked tirelessly for a positive outcome and we are surprised and disappointed give the development application was recommended for approval.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said while opponents of the eruv claimed it would negatively impact the community, the lack of action by the council was equally of concern.
“The test of a democracy is how it accommodates differences and celebrates diversity,” Alhadeff said. “There was a very regrettable lack of leadership from this council.
“Development applications get knocked back all the time and applicants make other plans, but what is of concern is that in the course of the debate in recent months some bigotry has emerged from some of the opponents.”
Mayor Ian Cross, who abstained from voting because he said he had a close association with rabbis and said there could be a perceived conflict of interest, told The AJN on Wednesday people from all faiths needed to be tolerant of each other.
“My own personal opinion is that I have no problem with a religion as long as it doesn’t impinge on any other faith,” Councillor Cross told The AJN.
Deputy mayor Jennifer Anderson said planning issues, rather than a lack of tolerance saw the application defeated.
“The majority of residents objected to the proposed eruv, with many residents concerned with the negative impact the visual clutter from the additional poles and wires would have on the streetscape.” Councillor Anderson said. “This was the major concern and not religious or racial views.”