Church wins right to stay
A CHURCH congregation's prayers have been answered - they can carry on worshipping on Rockhampton's main Bruce Hwy commercial strip.
The future of the Oasis New Life Church on George St was in doubt after business owners complained that numbers turning up for Sunday services was driving customers away.
But divine intervention came in the form of councillors who defied the advice of their planning experts to approve the church's application to operate among the burger joints, motorcycle showrooms and car spares stores in a precinct reserved for commercial activity.
Pastor John Rewald urged the councillors to hear the voice of the people and support the church's right to exist.
He told them that the congregation of about 350 attended 8.30am and 10.30am services on Sundays.
"Three businesses have given us the use of their car parks on Sundays and every effort is made to direct people to those car parks," he said.
But a deputation representing Ski Surf Snow and Tint-a-Car said there was clearly insufficient parking to cope with the influx of church members.
"If your neighbour parked in your driveway on your property after you asked them not to, what would you do?" the councillors were asked.
The council's planning experts said the application should be rejected because of insufficient parking.
Deputy Mayor Rose Swadling said the council should support the church because of the good it did in the community and Cr Greg Belz said that although there had clearly been disagreement he was confident the parties could work together with goodwill and co-operation to avoid conflict.
Cr Bill Ludwig said although planning officers had to strictly obey the rules, councillors had the right to make value judgements.
"I trust the applicant will continue to encourage worshippers to park elsewhere," he said.
"There is no ability for the church to grow on this site," Cr Glenda Mather said. "A good heart can get you in to trouble."