Re: Re: well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ?

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Fitzgerald tackled on ‘boundary’ issue
By Mary Earls
JOHN Fitzgerald was accused of not revealing his full intentions regards Limerick’s proposed boundary extension, when he briefed Limerick County Council on his recent report,

Addressing this week’s meeting of Limerick County Council, Cllr Richard Butler claimed that Fitzgerald had initially tried to avoid the forum and hadn’t discussed the extension proposals with any of the councillors who would be affected by the change.

Mr Fitzgerald recommended that a limited extension up to the Clare County boundary, from Moyross to the Coonagh roundabout, be put in place. However, Cllr Butler believes that this is just the first slice of the cake for Limerick City Council, who will be demanding more portions in time.

“Mr Fitzgerald told deputy Michael Noonan that he had no intention of consulting members of the Bruff area and the councillors involved. He didn’t even talk to the one councillor, Cormac Hurley, who will lose his seat if this goes ahead.

“Mr Fitzgerald was also asked by Michael Noonan if this issue will go away if we agree to the minor boundary extension, and he replied that it will be here forever. So, it’s not what was said at that meeting that’s important, it’s what wasn’t said,” said Cllr Butler.

Mr Fitzgerald originally told the County Council briefing session that he didn’t deal with the boundary issue in his report.

“This is because if the boundary changed in the morning, it would still not deal with the major problems in Moyross and Southill”.

But he warned that it will have to be looked at in future.

However, he later said that the area in the map with three local authorities “is a total mess”.

“I’m talking about the section from the Coonagh Roundabout to Moyross. It’s a very minor boundary extension. And this is the solution for the regeneration and redevelopment of the north side of Limerick city. However, I see this as a longer term issue though, so I haven’t dealt with it because of that,” he told the meeting.

Cllr Butler said that Mr Fitzgerald “started off not wanting an extension and went on to actively propose it”.

He added:”The majority of councillors would agree to sit down with Mr Fitzgerald or members of Limerick City Council and discuss this. And many would agree to grant this small extension if this was the full and final end of the matter. But no-one will promise this”.

Describing himself as the councillor closest to the “battlefield,” Cllr Cormac Hurley said that he was never contacted by John Fitzgerald “even though it seems he has talked to countless groups and individuals.

“We were also not afforded the opportunity to look at the proposed extension map until this meeting. And this map includes my area of Caherdavin and Coonagh,” said Cllr Hurley.

Cllr’s Eddie Wade and Jerome Scanlan said that there should have been a joint briefing session between the city and county councils to discuss the boundary issue. And Cllr Kieran O’Donnell added that “the residents of Caherdavin and Coonagh have rights as well”.

But, according to Mr Fitzgerald, the city “can’t survive on its own as the problems are not getting better” and “there is recognition that this limited extension of the boundary is in the long-term interests of the region as a whole”.

At a recent briefing with the County Council, Mr Fitzgerald said that it would be better if the boundary extension issue was led by county councillors.

“A number of problems have arisen from the difficulty, over many years, in resolving issues relating to the Limerick city/county boundary. For example, the most troubled part of Moyross is in the county, while the majority is in the city. “The boundary issue creates difficulties in making effective use of public and private lands to support regeneration and investment.

“In my view, this city boundary extension is critical in facilitating the intensive development and regeneration of the north city area. Economic regeneration, the creation of employment opportunities and the development of mixed housing will be crucial to the longer term resolution of current problems.

“There is a clear need for the development of regional strategies, particularly for housing and retail shopping. Limerick city has little further capacity for social housing within the boundary and so regional approaches must be progressed with a view to putting an agreed strategy in place to be implemented by the relevant authorities in the region. All adjacent local authorities have a responsibility in this regard. Visionary plans for the Limerick region and the Limerick-Shannon Gateway rely on the long term well-being and protection of Limerick city centre,” he stated in his report.

According to Mr Fitzgerald, there has been a lot of tension in the system over the boundary and it has been there for the last 40 odd years.

“New social housing for Limerick city will be a problem, along with shopping problems, and trading problems that it can’t sort out by itself,” he said.

In Limerick, there has been a shift in the focus of commercial activity away from the city centre to outlying shopping centres. For example, retail rents in the city centre are uniquely, for a city of its size, below the levels in suburban shopping centres. This is in direct contrast to cities such as Cork, Galway and Waterford, where city centre rents are much higher than the county, the report outlines.

Of the approximate 18,900 houses in the City Council area, 8,000 of these were constructed as social housing. And according to Mr Fitzgerald, “Limerick is unique in having such a high concentration of social housing within the city boundary – roughly 40 per cent”.

He said that the city centre needs to be preserved, or it may adversely affect the entire region.

“I’ve never seen anyone to go somewhere just to see a suburban shopping centre. And I think this issue would be better led by you. The problems are not getting better and it would be far better if you would show leadership and set up the structures. The existing structures in the city can’t cope with the severity of the problems. The city can’t survive on its own – it needs urgent regional leadership,” he told councillors.

Pointing out that Southill is adjoining his parish, Cllr Wade said that he “is opposing any extension to the city boundary and making no secret of it”.

“There are a lot of politicians silent on this and riding two horses at the same time

“A few acres were recently bought by Limerick City Council next to Rathbane Golf Club. And now my major concern is, were these lands bought with the intention of coming into the county. This is a very serious question and one that I am very concerned about and my neighbours are very concerned about. I don’t want to oppose the goodwill of regeneration but this is very close to my battlefield. And I am concerned that the city will soon want to extend into Donoughmore and Ballysheedy,” concluded Cllr Wade.

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