Council to fund €22m road locally

To pay for a road that has been 10 years in the planning, Westmeath County Council has set a price of €82,500 per hectare on future development levies in Athlone, a figure that equates to just €835 per each quarter acre site.

“This is not exhorbitant when compared to other counties for development levies,” said director of services for Athlone, Barry Kehoe.

The Loughandunning link is planned as a relief road from the rear of the Golden Island complex to the N6 at Creggan, has beeen mooted since 2000, and is an objective of the present Town Development Plan.

With the recession in full swing, Mr Kehoe told the meeting of Westmeath County Council on Monday that there was no capital funding from central Government for the road and that the council “must raise the money from development levies”.

The €21.95 million will be levied from all zoned lands in east Athlone, estimated to be in the region of 266 hectares (657 acres ) between now and 2010, and the scheme applies to all decisions granted by the planning department on any date after adoption. This is expected to be at either the December or January meeting.

Development levies are set by local authorities to pay for the infrastructure like roads, kerbs, sewerage, street lighting, water mains, and the like, that the developers benefit from.

“This is the commencement of the scheme and the council will decide whether it goes to public consultation,” siad Mr Kehoe. This was quickly proposed and seconded by Cllrs Mark Cooney and Frankie Keena, the latter of whom added: “This is a vital link road”.

Cllr Boxer Moran agreed with Cllr Keena but wanted an assurance that “one-off houses are not hit with similar charges”.

“It’s not fair on persons building these houses,” said Cllr Moran.

County manager Danny McLoughlin accepted this had been problematic in the past but promised to work with each “on a case by case basis”

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