A protest was held at the site on Monday. Photo by Trevor Veale.
A protest was held at the site on Monday. Photo by Trevor Veale.

Close call for controversial church development

AN attempt by three Coffs Harbour City Councillors to overturn approval of a controversial Catholic church development in Sawtell has been unsuccessful.

Councillors Sally Townley, Tegan Swan and Keith Rhoades lodged the rescission motion after the development was narrowly approved at their last meeting.

The proposal involves clearing rainforest to make way for eight units on the corner block between Boronia and Honeysuckle Streets and Fourth Ave.

Several units have already been built on the Boronia Street side of the block with the current proposal for eight units on the Honeysuckle side.

The rescission motion was calling on Councillors to reject the proposal based on unacceptable impacts on local traffic, flooding, and on neighbourhood amenity, and not being in the public interest.

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Jim Booth from Casa Koala Architecture spoke in support of the project urging Councillors not to support the rescission motion.

"This will set a dangerous precedence. There are strong ethical, reputational and economic reasons why each Councillor should reject this rescission motion," Mr Booth said in a statement read on his behalf.

"This project will provide 140 construction-related jobs and related economic flow on benefits during this difficult time."

Sawtell resident Helen Crofts spoke of the need to reach a compromise - a win/win for the community and the developer.

"While we acknowledge development is inevitable and it benefits local business, we believe this development does not positively contribute in any way to the neighbourhood."

She asked Councillors to put themselves in the shoes of neighbours who will have only two hours of sunlight once the townhouses are built.

A conceptual image of the eight townhouses planned for along Honeysuckle Drive, Sawtell.
A conceptual image of the eight townhouses planned for along Honeysuckle Drive, Sawtell.

Cr Rhoades also spoke of the need to find a suitable compromise. He also called on personal experience as a volunteer firefighter for 39 years to describe the potential for flooding at the site.

"I can't tell you the number of times I went there to assist residents in those streets to pump water out of their premises," Cr Rhoades said.

Cr Townley also spoke of water "sheeting" across the nearby roads and urged Councillors to reject the proposal.

"If we refuse, what's the worst thing that could happen? The developer could come back with a modified proposal somewhat smaller and more sympathetic to the site," Cr Townley said.

"The road (where the corner driveway servicing the eight units will be constructed) is barely 6 metres wide - the narrowest road we have on our hierarchy."

Concerns have been expressed over the corner driveway and influx of traffic.
Concerns have been expressed over the corner driveway and influx of traffic.

In urging Councillors to reject the rescission motion Cr George Cecato reminded them that plans have been recommended for approval by Council staff on two occasions and that it meets all legislative requirements.

Cr Paul Amos said that for the sake of consistency with Council's Compact City Growth Model he felt compelled to reject the rescission motion and allow the development to proceed.

"The condensed city model is about getting everything on an existing footprint - pushing in and up," Mr Amos said.

"I was actually against the condensed city model because I thought a broad approach would not work. So while I'm not a great fan of this development it is with some reluctance I am going to not support this rescission motion."

When it was put to the vote Crs George Cecato, Michael Adendorff, John Arkan and Paul Amos voted to defeat the rescission motion meaning the proposal can go ahead.



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