Deputy Mayor Tegan Swan says action has been lodged against her over the Two Tails Winery development application.
By the Editor
Coffs Coast Outlook understands that the action referred to may be in fact a referral by Council to ICAC.
Councillor Swan has been a consistent opponent of the proposed Civic Centre and new Council Chambers in Gordon Street and was instrumental in having the Two Tails DA referred to Councillors for a decision.
Development applications are usually determined under ‘delegated authority’ by senior staff.
This latest development in what increasingly to many appears to be a deeply troubled Council arose last night when ‘conflicts of interest’ were announced and after the presentations to council, in relation to the Two Tails DA, by two ratepayers Mr Terry Crowe, of Nana Glen and Dr Grant Cairncross (the Editor of CCO).
At this time it was announced that Deputy Mayor Tegan Swan had ‘reluctantly abstained’ from the discussion while also revealing actions have been taken against her in relation to the matter.
A report by council staff, presumably by the Planning Department and possibly with input from other members of staff recommended Two Tails DA be refused on a number of grounds including unacceptable noise impacts and that it’s not compatible with the objectives of the RU2 Rural Landscape zone.
Instead of voting on the recommendation, which was to deny the extensions, an alternative motion was then presented to councillors, which was carried unanimously (minus Cr’s Rhoades and Swan who were absent from the Chamber). The new motion read;
“That Council note the proponent has commenced proceedings in the Land and Environment Court and resolve not to determine the development application on the basis that it will now be determined by the Land and Environment Court.’
Presumably the Executive of Council have recommended to Councillors that a possibly lengthy court battle and associated costs were preferable to settling the issue on amended grounds and having the Land and Environment Court action withdrawn.
My presentation to Council
Along with Terry Crowe, I spoke in favour of Two Tails DA prior to the above amended motion being voted on.
The notes which I largely, but not wholly, talked to are reproduced below;
“Thank you Councillors for allowing me to address you in support of the Two Tales Development Application (DA) that is on tonight’s Council agenda and against the recommendations in relation to that agenda item.
In the first instance I would like to emphasise that I come here as a ratepayer and not as a representative of Southern Cross University where I have been a senior academic in the School of Business and Tourism for 23 years in Coffs Harbour and where my research and teaching interests centre around tourism and hospitality employment, entrepreneurship, service quality and regional development. I also would like to make it clear that I also do not appear in my role as editor of a local blog site either.
I’m here as a ratepayer who also happens to understand tourism and hospitality in a regional setting and who passionately believes Two Tails is a shining gem in that context.
Before I go on and more specifically explain why I am speaking in favour of their DA though I would briefly like to acquaint you with some of their history.
Two Tails Winery and restaurant is an award-winning establishment based in Nana Glen.
Two Tails won two Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce Sunny awards in 2018 for Excellence in Small Business and also in the Local Producer Award category. The same year it was a Finalist in the NSW Business Chamber’s Regional Business Awards and went on to win both the Excellence in Small Business award and the ultimate Regional Business of the Year award.
In 2019 it won the Australian Good Food Guide readers award in their category.
Currently they employ 12 staff – many from the Orara Valley and all from within our local government area. Many of those staff are young and get training they can use elsewhere, which is crucial in a region of stubbornly high youth unemployment. They have employed up to 19 staff but operating restrictions have meant they now have to employ less staff.
More about that later.
Two Tails only uses local fresh, seasonal produce. They support growers and their families in our region and nearby.
A random scan of several year’s-worth of visitor’s books told me that on any given week over the past three years 80% of visitors to Two Tails Velvet’s Restaurant came from outside our local government area – places as close as Grafton and as far away and as exotic as Rome and San Francisco.
I estimate that with a conservative multiplier effect of 2:1 Two Tails generates approximately $3.5 million p.a. for our region’s economy.
I teach entrepreneurship at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels and I believe Two Tails would be a model regional case study for students.
Two Tails are that good.
They understand service and product differentiation and make sure their wine and food reflect that golden rule of ‘Marketing 101’.
And with all due respect that is one reason why I struggle to understand the difficulties they seem to have had in order to obtain DA approval so that they can offer bean bags, cabanas and shade on grass settings near the cellar and restaurant. Somewhere people can wine and dine in a civilized manner in a beautiful setting.
These are not unusual requests they are making.
If one researches most winery/restaurants in similar areas in NSW in places such as Port Macquarie, Orange, New England and Mudgee one will find many started in areas zoned rural and then, often with federal and state government support and encouragement, were allowed changes that accommodated exactly the same as what Two Tails are asking for here.
And, yes, many of those too have residential properties within 75m of their cellars and outdoor dining areas too.
In fact we only need to drive 30 minutes south down the road to Raleigh to find a winery/restaurant that has exactly the same things outdoors that are being requested by Two Tails.
And they have a line of residential properties right across the road and closer than is the case with Two Tails in fact.
I know this because I have driven there and wined and dined there in the past 9 months and seen them.
Perhaps our neighbours in Bellingen Shire are more accommodating and progressive in this regards?
I fail to see why in my opinion Two Tails appears to be being treated differently to other wineries in the state and other eateries in our council area.
Or differently in some aspects to the Idle Inn Café on Orara Way the main street of Nana Glen and who are only one kilometer away from Two Tails?
I found it strange that two weeks ago when this matter last came before you mention was made about Two Tails ‘breaching liquor licensing laws’ a matter I believe to be outside Council Planning’s duties and responsibilities.
On further investigation it would appear to me nothing of the sort had occurred. I note that those particular allegations do not appear on the recommendations in front of you tonight.
I have looked at the 52 points in Attachment 4 in relation to the Two Tails item on the agenda tonight and although while I see some that are perfectly sensible I see many that not only seem to resemble micro-management on steroids but the more I look the more I see what appears to be an attempt to erect endless barricades and to ‘hand cuff’ Two Tails as a going concern.
Sorry about the mixed metaphor’s there but I am calling it as I see it.
Some, such as table seating requirements, to name but one, are so onerous they would in all probability lead to a sharp drop in custom and employment. There is a hint of restraint of trade about those in my opinion.
The future of this award-winning gem of a tourism and hospitality business would be very shaky if many of these points were to be approved by you tonight and attached to any DA.
The 12 staff could lose their jobs, the fresh produce suppliers could lose a valuable customer and Coffs Harbour could lose a star tourism and hospitality attraction.
And can we afford that at a time when local businesses are struggling to get over recent fires and floods and at a time when corona virus poses both a health and economic threat?
Councilors can you afford to forget what the Prime Minister the Treasurer and the State Minister for Small Business (see attached) are saying right now about the importance of supporting small local businesses at this particular moment in time when you make your decision on this tonight?
In my opinion you can’t.
As the great economist John Maynard Keynes once said; “when the facts change, I change my mind.” Well the facts have changed and they are changing rapidly.
Yes, we won a great tourism award last week with the Wotif award but we can’t afford to ‘rest on our laurels’. Not with the changes swirling around us now.
In my opinion and experience Two Tails has the potential to become a true shining star as part of our tourism offerings if it is just given what other winery/restaurants in NSW already have.
I commend this DA to you and I urge you to support it together with a minimal number of those points in Attachment 4. And not the ‘all or nothing’ approach as is suggested.
Thank you very much for hearing me tonight.”
Th following is the email referred to above;
Attachment: Statement by The Hon Damien Tudehope – NSW Minister for Small Business to Moffee’s TripleM Coffs Coast Breakfast Show – 10 March 2020
From: Kylie Adoranti <[email protected]>
Date: 10 March 2020 at 5:58:07 pm AEDT
To: Michael Moffett <[email protected]>
Subject: Triple M Coffs – Coffs Harbour Council – Two Tails DA.
Thanks for your email and apologies for the delay. The Minister was down at the South Coast visiting fire-affected businesses today.
Please see below. Let me know if you need anything else.
The following comments can be attributed to the NSW Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope.
Now more than ever we all need to work together to cut red tape and get out of the way of small businesses looking to grow and thrive.
Councils across NSW are not immune from this responsibility.
I call on Coffs Harbour City Council to work alongside small businesses to ensure they can do what they do best – provide important services and great offerings to local communities.
The NSW Government is committed to reducing red tape, cutting tax and making it easier to do business in NSW so mums and dads can focus on their start-up phase, becoming successful and continuing to create jobs throughout the state.
Terry Crowe’s presentation notes will be published next week.