COUNTY councillors have approved a new local area plan for Abbeyfeale but only after a controversial flood plain designation was removed from the plan.
However, even as councillors welcomed the removal of the flood designation,they raised concerns about a separate plan to alleviate traffic congestion in the town.
Because Abbeyfeale is on the tourist route to Kerry, the volumes of traffic going through from now to the end of August will be huge, Cllr Liam Galvin said.
And, he added. there is chronic congestion at Joys corner, the turn-off for Athea and Listowel.
But neither Cllr Galvin nor Cllr Francis Foley nor Cllr John Sheahan were happy with the NRA plan which would see traffic lights erected at Joy’s corner and 13 parking spaces removed, four from Church St and nine from Main Street, with none to be added in the Square.
Instead, the councillors were agreed that the council should move on acquiring a building which would allow for easy pedestrian access to the car park at the rear of Main St.
And both Cllr Galvin and Cllr Foley pressed county manager Conn Murray to proceed with the project with money ring-fenced in the 2014 budget.
“Now is our chance. It is a golden opportunity,” Cllr Foley said, and he urged that the opportunity would not be lost.
Traffic lights would not resolve the traffic congestion, Cllr Galvin said but, he argued, the parking spaces were vital to business in the town and they wanted the spaces to be kept.
An alternative plan had been agreed, he said, but that was not acceptable to the NRA. And he called on the manager to set up a meeting with the NRA in order to resolve the matter.
“I am not fully convinced lights at Joy’s corner would work,” Cllr John Sheahan said but he agreed that the NRA plan would create a “drive-through Abbeyfeale”.
“We are committed to coming up with a solution,” director of transport, Paul Crowe said. “Funding is being given by the NRA and we need to work with the NRA to try and find a solution.”
Meanwhile, the local area plan for Newcastle West has been postponed until next month to allow some details of the plan to be tweaked.
But the single, most controversial aspect of the plan, a relief road along the perimeter of the Demesne, has been dropped from the plan, to the relief of all councillors.
Almost 150 submissions were lodged with Limerick County Council after the plan went on public display earlier this year.
However, when the plan came up for ratification at Tuesday’s meeting of the council, Cllr Jerome Scanlan indicated he wanted more time to deal with some details in the plan. “It is somewhat premature,” he said.
“We need time. We have until May 16 to bring closure to the plan.”
Cllr Michael Collins also wanted more time to work on particular aspects of the plan and said he was working with the planning section on them. He proposed that a special meeting of the council be held on May 14 to finalise the plan.
This was agreed.