CLARENCE Valley councillors searched their souls long and hard to allow a controversial hotel redevelopment in Yamba to go ahead.
Earlier in the year Clarence Valley Council had knocked back plans to demolish the seven-unit Surf Hotel in Queen St and rebuild it as a 12-unit boutique hotel.
Neighbours in the Craigmore and the Surfside Motel objected strenuously to the development which they said cut off the sunlight to their apartments, invaded their privacy and created an unwelcome intrusion into the beachside landscape among other things.
The council received 21 objections to the motel and all of them showed the development failed to comply with five of the council's Development Control Plan and Local Environment Plan regulations.
It was enough to convince the councillors to reject the development and invite the developer, Mainrow Pty Ltd and its owners David Mayne, Janene Cattell and architect John King to resubmit the plans after they made the necessary changes.
At Tuesday's meeting three councillors who had previously voted against the proposal decided the changes to the plan, although short of complying with the regulations, were good enough to get a tick of approval.
Newly re-elected Mayor Richie Williamson, his deputy Cr Craig Howe and Cr Karen Toms revealed they had all changed their minds - but only just.
Crs Sue Hughes and Margaret McKenna maintained their opposition to the development. They said the changes made to the plans were so slight they did not warrant a change of mind.
Cr Andrew Baker continued to champion the plan. His said the proposed development would add "vibrancy" to the precinct, a feature lacking except for a cafe further up the street, which also broke the 6m setback regulation.
Cr Williamson said the changes were enough to change his mind, although he conceded the development would affect neighbouring properties.
He conceded it was a close-run thing and was aware other councillors might see it differently.
Cr Hughes was one of those. She reserved her most stinging criticism for the "parking buy out" where the developer could effectively buy two parking places off site from the council for $34,120.
"What are top dollar paying guests going to think of parking outdoors in the street in a public car park?" she said.
Cr Howe was another to say the development forced him to make a hard choice.
He thought the proponents had made genuine efforts to improve the plan and agreed with Cr Baker that the development would improve the area.
"I'm going to vote for the development because it's a net gain for the community," he said.
The vote for the development was 6-3. Crs Williamson, Howe, Baker, Toms, Arthur Lysaught and Jim Simmons were for it.
Crs Hughes, McKenna and Jason Kingsley voted against.
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