Over the past weekend we published a story outlining a motion Councillor Keith Rhoades had moved at the last Council meeting on Thursday 12 September calling for a halt on the DA application to demolish 27-31 Gordon Street until the NSW Legislatice Assembly has had a chance to discuss the petition against the development from approximately 13,000 Coffs Harbour citizens.
The motion was seconded by Councillor Sally Townley (below) and got the support of five of the eight Councillors.
Councillor Rhoades also called on ratepayers to write to all Councillors and the GM and outline in writing their reasons for objecting to demolition taking place before this debate can be held.
Today we publish below, with the permission of the author, one of the letters sent to Council in support of Councillor Rhoades motion. The writer of the letter has asked us to maintain their anonymity in this instance;
“17 Sept 2019
The General Manager
Coffs Harbour City Council
Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
- OBJECTION TO DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION 0199/20DA
- SUPPORT FOR CR RHOADES MOTION MUN 19/05
I write to express my objection to Council’s Development Application 0199/20DA on the following basis:
- The initial development proposal presented to the public included performing arts space and no Council premises. I contend that Council intentionally misled the public in this regard to falsely engender public support. It is evident from the 2016 change that Council had intended from the outset, to include new Council offices, in lieu of the performing arts space.
- Council’s proposal for redevelopment of the subject site is entirely based on contrived public support.
- Public claims by the Mayor as to the engagement with 1800 citizens is without substantiation. My own investigations suggest the group was a “closed shop” of invited persons, attending multiple sessions.
- The project was never planned to benefit the wider Local Government Area and residents, but rather, a small section with vested interests aligned with Council itself.
- The Mayor’s assertion that the inclusion of new Council Chambers was at the behest of an unqualified Library Gallery Advisory Panel is ludicrous. Moreover, it suggests Council is managed by the influence of vested interests, rather than qualified experts in town planning and design.
- Council has failed to provide the Councillors with the appropriate level of financial and supporting information, sufficient for them to be fully cognisant of the feasibility of the project.
- The project base level documentation presented to the Councillors and public is entirely insufficient to substantiate the costings and feasibility expressed by Council.
- The project is entirely unfit for purpose, containing insufficient spaces to provide even an equal level of contemporary space as occupied by the current facilities and staff.
- Council has abused its planning guidelines in incorporating no parking space on site. Parking in the CBD is at a premium and Council would not afford any other CBD development the same latitude.
- The project provides no capacity for future growth or additional development, thereby making it redundant from conception.
- Council through its executive managers has misled the public, including within the Council Chambers in meeting time, in asserting it has the financial capacity to service the suggested project loan.
The cost of the proposed $46Million debt based on Council’s stated 30 year term and 2.6%pa interest rate, would amount to in excess of $66Million or more than $183,000 (principal and interest) per month.
- The decision made by Council to proceed with
the project was entirely concocted as evidenced by neither the Mayor or General
Manager objecting to a supportive Councillor, with strong implications of a
significant conflict of interest, to voting in such a contentious and
It would be entirely fair for the public to believe there was collusion at the highest level within Council in order to allow that Councillor to vote.
I suggest the act was premeditated to enable the Mayor to use her casting vote to sway the final decision. The General Manager is sufficiently experienced to know that once the decision was made in the contentious Council Meeting, it would not be overturned by the Office of Local Government. It was an abuse of the Local Government system and abuse of the Executive position.
Had either the Mayor or General Manager acted with proper governance, the exclusion of the subject Councillor, would have still left sufficient Councillors to make an unbiased decision, without a corruptive influence.
- There is no substantiative basis for Council’s asserted financial benefit from the project, which was irresponsibly supported by a compliant local Chamber of Commerce executive. This implies an unhealthy link between Council executive, the Chamber of Commerce and other vested groups linked to and benefiting from the project.
- The Council and Mayor have blatantly ignored the objections of 13000 local adult residents, exceeding 33% of the registered voting public, to halt progress of the project, based on a lack of proper and candid community consultation, lack of financial feasibility and community benefit.
- The Mayor’s claim of 13000 residents as being a “noisy minority” and scoffing at the signed petition delivered to the NSW Parliament exemplifies that Council was never interested in the community’s opinion, never intended to properly engage and inform the community, and fully intended to deceive the community for its own benefit.
- The Council has through its actions in respect of the project, committed serious breaches of the Guidelines governing its conduct and the parameters for managing the Local Government Area.
Support for Motion MUN 19/05 – Council Meeting 12 September 2019
I fully support the Motion tendered by Cr Rhoades for the
cessation of any action in respect of the subject Gordon Street property
without the consent of the majority of Councillors.
I reject, on the basis of past conduct, that the Council has proven itself sufficiently unbiased as to be trusted as the approving authority under delegation.