Plans for a 40-seat restaurant and carpark at Scarrabelottis Lookout in Coorabell remain on the table, after Byron Council voted to defer the matter at its March 19 planning meeting.
The decision was made after a somewhat bizarre voting stalemate, which saw two separate motions to refuse the application voted down by different councillors, even though refusing the application was the majority view.
The proposal is for an ‘intimate high-end restaurant’, which would be open during daytime hours five days a week.
It includes water harvesting, solar power and battery storage and onsite effluent disposal.
However, there have been multiple points of objection from nearby residents and other locals, in particular to using part of the lookout site for car parking.
The lookout was donated to the community by the Scarrabelotti family, long-term residents of the Byron Shire.
Many have objected to the idea of Council effectively gifting this land to the proponent, though it promised to undertake some upgrading works in return.
Independent councillor Basil Cameron told the meeting that building the restaurant would have a significant negative impact on the site.
‘I’ve lived here since the mid ’80s, and ever since then it has been one of the Shire’s really special spots,’ Cr Cameron said.
‘I was taken there to see the view, and many residents have taken their visitors there – friends and family.
‘A key aspect is its low-key nature, and I can’t overestimate the values.
‘I believe that would be lost if the proposal goes ahead in its current form.’
Cr Cameron put forward a motion refusing permission for the restaurant on multiple grounds, including the car parking issue and the inappropriateness of the location.
However, this motion was opposed by Greens mayor Simon Richardson and fellow Greens councillor Sarah Ndiaye, who argued that some of the refusal grounds were unfair.
Cr Richardson put forward an alternative motion that involved refusing the proposal based on the car parking issue alone.
‘I don’t oppose the restaurant… I don’t think it’s crassly commercialising the hinterland,’ Cr Richardson said.
‘My issue is using a public space for a carpark.’
At the same time, Cr Alan Hunter argued that the DA should be approved in its current form. This resulted in a somewhat bizarre stalemate in which both motions for refusal were voted down because agreement could not be reached on the terms of refusal.
Contributing to this was the fact that three councillors were absent from the meeting.
Eventually, after discussions behind closed doors over the lunch break, Crs Richardson, Ndiaye and Hunter formed an alliance, agreeing to defer the matter to the next planning meeting