The Bangalow Chamber of Commerce has agreed to disagree over the potential construction of a 20-acre food-manufacturing precinct at the gateway to town on the Lismore Road.
The contentious plan by developer Bart Elias has divided the town between supporters – who want to see iconic brands including Brookfarm, Byron Bay Cookies and Salumi remain in the shire – and those who have serious concerns about the siting of the proposed development.
The divisions have run deep, even within the business community, prompting the calling of a special general meeting of the chamber last night (Thursday, August 25) to thrash out the issue.
Before the meeting were two alternative motions: one opposing the development proposal and one that, rather than supporting it, effectively expressed no opinion.
The latter motion was moved by Ms Adams, who said it was important that such issues didn’t split the chamber.
She said that she had called the meeting to decide the issue because of member concerns but that the chamber was ‘about so much more than deciding which DAs to support.’
We’re here to support our members,’ she said, ‘not divide them.’
Proxy vote issue
But before the vote could proceed there were legal issues to consider.
Present at the meeting was Donna Yager from NSW Business Chamber, who said that as a result of of members making direct contact with the chamber’s in-house lawyers and the Department of Fair Trading, it had come to their attention that, ‘your constitution appears to say that proxy votes are prohibited.’
Ms Adams said, however, that regardless of this advice the committee had taken the decision to go ahead with the vote, including proxies.
‘But we will obtain further legal advice on how to proceed tomorrow. Advice of the outcome will be communicated to members at the earliest time,’ she said.
In the event, the meeting voted ‘not to support or oppose’ the development proposal by a 34 votes to 30.
The motion would stand even if the proxy votes were removed, on a margin of 16 to 10.
The Bangalow Chamber of Commerce does not support the development submitted by Chase Lismore Rd Pty Ltd (specifically DA 10.2016.283.1) as it believes it will have a detrimental effect on the local retail precinct and greater village businesses through a significant increase in traffic.
It is the Bangalow Chamber of Commerce’s belief that this will affect the viability of many of the existing businesses and the community’s unique village atmosphere.
Furthermore, the proposal to have Bangalow listed as a STATE HERITAGE VILLAGE of historical importance makes this development incompatible with the very essence of Bangalow and its surrounding agricultural land.
Eon Jones/ Linda Sparrow
The second paragraph was removed after it was revealed that Bangalow is not listed as a state heritage village.
The Lismore Road Industrial Food Hub is a large development which is likely to create opportunities and costs to both the residential and business community of Bangalow. The Bangalow Chamber of Commerce is a small group of people with commercial interests in and around Bangalow. The Chamber is not a group that represents the general community and the negative aspects of this project are less likely to affect us than the residential population of the village. Therefore, our motion is to neither support nor oppose the developer’s application. We’re a small community and the will of the people who live here should be respected.
Carolyn Adams/Greg Clark
Echo Publications is a member of the Bangalow Chamber of Commerce but did not vote on this issue.