Airport re-zoning bid raises questions
A PROPOSAL to re-zone land in the council's Airport Enterprise Park development is raising an important question: just who is making this request?
A Coffs Harbour City Councillor is also asking why rezoning has now been put on the table while negotiations for a long-term lease of the airport and the Enterprise Park development are currently underway.
A report, which will go to the council at this week's meeting, states there is potential conflict arising as council is both the developer of the 23ha park through the Airport Development Group, as well as the approval authority.
The report therefore seeks to amend the probity plan so that council is no longer the approval authority for any requests to re-zone the area, which is currently zoned for aviation-related activities.
While the council is the owner of the land, negotiations are currently underway to handover the airport and Enterprise Park development to a third-party company under a long-term lease.
The lease has not been finalised and a report on the chosen bidder is yet to go to a council meeting.
Councillor Sally Townley has now questioned why probity around rezoning has all of a sudden become urgent.
"Legal advice dated just a few days ago advises that council may have a conflict of interest is a rezoning is proposed and council is both developer and approval authority," Cr Townley said.
"But so far there has been absolutely no public disclosure of what the Airport Development Group are considering with regard to rezoning.
"So it places councillors in an awkward position that rezoning is suddenly introduced when the negotiations for the airport lease are actively underway."
In November 2019, after numerous non-bindings bids had been received during the expression of interest process, councillors had voted to advance the lease to the binding bids stage.
At the time it was slated that the management of the airport would be officially handed over to a private company by the end of March, however this was delayed due to COVID-19.
A council report now reveals the result will go to a council meeting at the end of August.