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Connacht Tribune

New homes plan a ‘fatal accident waiting to happen’

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A local residents’ association has objected to plans for the construction of nearly 40 new homes in Claregalway, warning that additional traffic in the area would be a “fatal accident waiting to happen”.

Residents in the adjoining Riveroaks estate also argue that no insurance company offers flood insurance for their homes.

Developer Walter King has sought permission to develop the 3.8-acre site at Summerfield for 39 houses and 78 parking spaces.

The plans involve 22 three-bed semis, 6 two-bed end of terrace, 6 two-bed mid-terrace, 3 three-bed terraced and 2 four-bed semis, accessed from the Riveroaks estate.

Because the lands are in a Gaeltacht area, 20% of the development (eight dwellings) must be reserved for Irish speakers for a 15-year period.

“The proposed development will provide additional residential units within Claregalway which will augment and support the existing population centre. The provision of an additional 39 units will not have an adverse impact on the linguistic integrity of the area due to the population levels and the numbers of Irish speakers in the vicinity.

“Furthermore, in compliance with the Gaeltacht Local Area Plan, eight residential units will be reserved for Irish-speaking members of the community for a 15-year period. The reservation of eight houses for Irish speakers will help strengthen the language in the village and this is in addition to any further Irish speakers that may occupy the 31 remaining proposed houses,” the application reads.

Four houses will be transferred to the County Council to meet social housing requirements.

The Riveroaks Residents’ Association has made a submission the Council outlining the reasons it is not in favour of the development, including Health and Safety issues.

“Riveroaks is a very large estate with a single access point to the main N17 road which is also shared with a shopping centre and the Claregalway Hotel and is already extremely dangerous with one resident recently suffering a near-fatal accident.

“Traffic volumes through the village are still dangerously high and this is compounded by the fact that the entrance to Riveroaks frequently flooded due to hopelessly inadequate storm drainage systems in the village.

“The junction is potentially lethal as due to the curvature of the road, visibility is extremely limited on both sides and we feel it would be grossly irresponsible to allow heavy construction traffic in particular to access a large site like this through this route.

“We also have strong concerns about the health and safety of residents and young children in particular – the route from the estate entrance through to this proposed development is approximately 500 metres long and passed by many open entrances – the additional traffic through this route is a fatal accident waiting to happen,” the objection reads.

Residents also point out the development borders a documented flood plan, and while an engineering report with the application found the development and access road would be in a low-risk zone, “the reality is that no insurance company currently offers flood cover for any property in Riveroaks estate”.

They also took issue with GK Developments, the company which built Riveroaks – headed by Walter King – over unfinished work and delays in the estate including road surfacing, footpaths and drainage.

Concerns were also expressed that there would be nearly 200 houses and apartments, with no plans for recreational facilities and while children are already playing in close proximity to the road.

The Council is due to make a decision on the application in the middle of September.

Connacht Tribune

‘Give even one big GAA game to Ballinasloe’

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It’s the most centrally located ground in the country but Ballinasloe’s Duggan Park won’t host a single inter-county match this year – much to the annoyance of one local councillor who wants the GAA to allocate at least one big game to the venue.

Cllr Michael Connolly told a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that the ground is entitled to host major football and hurling fixtures – even though all but one of the Galway footballers’ home league games are assigned to Pearse Stadium with the other one in Tuam.

“If they gave us one match in Duggan Park, it would be something,” he said. “But at the moment, it seems as if it is being ignored.”

The Moylough councillor described it as the most accessible ground in the country and a venue in which players and supporters like to travel to – unlike, he suggested, Pearse Stadium.

He said that it was “a hateful venue” and few GAA supporters relished the prospect of travelling to the “far side of the city” to watch a football or hurling match.

A recent meeting in Gullane’s Hotel to discuss Duggan Park was attended by Deputy Denis Naughton, Senator Aisling Dolan, Cllr Evelyn Parsons and Cllr Declan Kelly among others.

But the Duggan Park Committee then issued a statement saying that the ground is owned by Galway GAA and any use of the facility needed to be authorised – and no authorisation was given to the meeting organiser, former Mayor of Ballinasloe Joe Kelly, for this purpose.

Mr Kelly has been a staunch campaigner for the redevelopment of Duggan Park and has called on the local authority to row in behind this initiative.

They went on to say that there is a plan in place for the development of Duggan Park which is multiple staged which started with the new dressing rooms, flood lights and a new entrance to the venue.

Planning permission is in place for this development and that €500,000 has already been spent in the Duggan Park over the past number of years carrying out these projects.

The work in the ground, they say, is done to an excellent standard by local contractors with the support of the previous Town Council for grants and sports capital grants.

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Connacht Tribune

Former tourism magnet officially on register of derelict sites

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The fire-ravaged hotel that was once one of the most popular in the county is now officially considered a derelict site – and that has led a local councillor to call for it to be either redeveloped or levelled.

Portumna’s Shannon Oaks Hotel, for so long popular with anglers and golfers in particular, has been boarded up for more than a decade since it was destroyed by fire.

Local councillor, Jimmy McClearn, has called on the owners to reopen or sell the property – adding that it should either be levelled or redeveloped.

“We are a tourist town and we need a hotel. The last thing we want is for a hotel to be shut up,” he said.

“It is a fine facility and on an extensive site so there is no reason why it should be boarded up,” he added.

The Shannon Oaks saga has gone on for the past twelve years – but now the owners, the multi-millionaire Comer brothers, will be forced to pay a derelict site levy if they do not reopen or redevelop.

That amounts to a seven per cent levy based on the market value of the property, which is worth around €1 million even in its derelict state.

The Shannon Oaks was ravaged by fire in September 2011 and four years later, the site was acquired by the Comer Group who, at the time, gave an undertaking that it would be reopened.

Around two years ago, planning permission was granted by Galway County Council to Barry Comer of the Comer Group to renovate the hotel by providing 60 new bedrooms along with 40 apartments to the rear of the structure.

However, there has been little or no movement on the site since then and now the owners are being again asked to give some indication as to when the hotel will be rebuilt.

It is considered an integral part of the tourism industry for the town and that is why pressure is mounting on the owners to rebuild the hotel.

Cllr McClearn said that all he is asking for is the owners to develop the site and provide a hotel there. “It’s not much to ask in a tourist town,” he added.

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Connacht Tribune

More than €200,000 worth of cannabis seized in East Galway

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More than €200,000 worth of cannabis was seized in during two separate search operations in East Galway on Saturday.

Gardai from the Divisional Drugs Unit conducted a search at a residence in Aughrim and seized cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €146,000 and €20,000 worth of cannabis herb which will now be sent for analysis.

Two men (both in their 30s) were arrested at the scene in connection with the investigation and are currently detained at Galway Garda station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996.  Both men remain in custody.

A separate search was carried out at a residence in Ballinasloe yesterday afternoon and cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €35,000 was seized. Cannabis jellies and €7,510 in cash were also seized.

A man in his 40s was arrested and later released without charge and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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