Both the mayor and deputy mayor spoke at length at yesterday’s Tweed Council meeting on the subject of the Paradiso holiday apartment block’s change of use development application (DA22/0325), before the chamber voted in favour of the rescission motion, overturning a previous failed motion to deny the application.
The mayor said she felt a responsibility to speak on this subject. ‘I wrote the refusal for this item and that is proposed to be rescinded. As many of you know, I think I expressed quite a lot of concerns in the last meeting. I think that I need to accept that.
‘We’ve had legal advice that it’s quite a difficult position to defend in terms of the items that I’ve raised in that refusal,’ she said.
‘I would like to just say that everyone knows – I’ve gone on record saying that I’ve got issues.’
Mayor Cherry has issues
Cr Cherry said she is very concerned about the precedent that a decision may set in terms of allowing this to occur, ‘but I think it’s really, really important for everybody to understand that any future applications will be dealt with on their merits, and they will be very much based on the car parking allowable.
‘I think the issue that was raised in public access earlier about that, for council to be prepared to give variations to those car parking requirements in the future, if we’d like people to have the equity of being able to do the same thing, is not a good long term outcome. And I certainly think a variation in car parking has long term effects.
‘It has impacts ongoing in the community forever, because car parking is a massive issue as our shires get busier and busier. I think we need to really consider that going forward. I don’t think anybody can rely on variations being given for car parking into the future on this kind of application.
‘I’d just like to put that on record,’ she said.
Not an easy decision
Cr Reece Byrnes joined the mayor in supporting the rescission motion. ‘I was one of the people that actually voted the other way previously,’ he said. ‘Again, it is not an easy decision and the reasoning behind my vote previously was based on how I voted on similar matters to date, and I still have concerns and share those with some members of the community.
‘But for some time, I’ve also been saying that the council is facing issues outside and bigger than its control when it comes to the money that we have in our kitty and the ability that we have to fight matters in the court.
‘That is not to preempt the decision of the court, but all the advice we received to date including our own staff, advises us to the contrary – to put the mayor or the mayor and myself in a position to go to court without that support, and without that evidence, in this time, post-COVID and posts-floods, would be a disservice to ratepayers and residents in this community as it is their money we are spending.
‘The mayor is correct in that this should not reflect a precedent,’ said Cr Byrnes.
‘I think this is a very unique case and there are arguments to be made that each person’s home is their castle, and I’ve said that in this chamber before as well. So on that basis, I’m going to support that.
‘I wish to be on the record with the community there too, that is not an easy one and for many, decisions like these are rare and when they come before councillors they’re very hard. To vote with one’s heart or vote with really what is the right thing to do across the board and for the right of the larger Tweed community and the money that is theirs.
‘With a heavy heart I’m going to support this decision and I believe that it should be supported by the majority of council so we can send that message to the community and support the mayor in this case.’
Important to take advice from professionals
Cr Meredith Dennis reiterated what had been said. ‘I think it’s really important that, of course, we take the advice from the professionals on our staff, but also, we’ve been elected to make decisions – we all think differently and we all take the role theory seriously.
‘If we disagree with everything we’re not doing our due diligence, and I think there’s been a couple of instances since the election where we’ve gone back on decisions, but it’s all about getting as much information as we possibly can and making and then being happy with the decision we’ve made,’ said Cr Dennis.
The mayor then asked councillors to vote. The result was unanimously for the rescission.