Yaroomba pressure amounts to bullying: Deputy Mayor
THE sheer weight of feedback leading up to a decision on a controversial development is amounting to bullying, according to the Coast's Deputy Mayor.
Years of applications, reports, campaigning and community feedback over the future of Sekisui House's prime Yaroomba beachfront site will come down to the votes of 11 elected representatives tomorrow.
Deputy Mayor Tim Dwyer said the tone of feedback he had received had ranged from civil and accurate to completely offensive and inaccurate.
"From my perspective what people have been attempting to do is bully councillors with regards to the sheer weight of communications," Cr Dwyer said.
He said he respected people's right to have their say but questioned whether or not all of them had researched the proposal.
"I'll be assessing the application on its merits and not the emotions and making a decision on Thursday that reflects that."
He described the conditions the council would impose and the infrastructure agreement for the proposal as probably the most onerous he had seen in his time as a councillor.
Cr Jenny McKay said emails had been coming through "thick and fast" from the Yaroomba community, the majority of which made clear their opposition to the proposal.
"It's a very complex application," Cr McKay said.
She believed she would have spent more than 100 hours on the subject, gaining feedback and reviewing reports.
"I'm being honest with you, I'm on the fence," she said.
"As I've followed this journey I've seen significant improvements to their (Sekisui House's) original application but I still have some significant concerns."
She said they related to density and precedents for future developments.
Cr John Connolly said he thought most councillors probably would have made up their minds on how they would vote.
But he said he would be making his decision tomorrow.
"I think there are changes afoot across the Sunshine Coast at the moment as we prepare for the 500,000 people both sides of government tell us we are going to have in 15 years," Cr Connolly said.
"Doing nothing is not an option."
He said the region's economic plan had highlighted a need for more five and five-and-a-half star hotels.
"Against that you weigh up community concerns."
Cr Christian Dickson said there was a constant message from the Coolum and Yaroomba community that people didn't want to see the application supported.
But he said there seemed to be a lot of incorrect information and assumptions in the feedback he was receiving about the project.
Cr Dickson said he couldn't understand descriptions of the hotel development, proposed to be seven storeys, as high-rise.
He referenced the 18-floor Mantra Mooloolaba hotel.
"I'm struggling to grasp this issue of high-rise because if this is high-rise, we have skyscrapers in Mooloolaba," Cr Dickson said.
He said building height, density, traffic, impact on turtles and impact on the planning scheme were significant issues raised by the development.
"But I believe the (council officers') report addresses a number of those."
He said he was yet to have made up his mind on how he would vote.
Cr Ted Hungerford said the issue was probably one of the biggest he had dealt with in terms of community feedback.
"It is overwhelmingly opposing it," Cr Hungerford said.
He said he was looking at the economic benefits of the project for the Coast as well as the threat it posed to the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme.
In particular, he said by going outside the scheme precedents would be set for further breaches.
"Precedents are like cancer for a town plan," Cr Hungerford said.
He said he was leaning towards a no vote unless he could hear a really good argument for the project.
Cr Greg Rogerson said he too had been bombarded with feedback, noting it was about 50 against for every one submission for.
"It makes me consider very, very in depth every perceivable aspect with this particular application and what it will do in the present and into the future," Cr Rogerson said.
"That means looking at the negative impacts and the positive impacts."
He said he would decide his vote once the issue had been debated.
"It's a really difficult decision."
Sunshine Coast Business Council chair Sandy Zubrinich said her organisation believed the Coast needed more accommodation and more high-quality accommodation.
"We certainly need more than just this particular one," Ms Zubrinich said.
"Sekisui's proposal is just an opportunity to get one of those in place."
The Daily tried to contact all councillors and the Mayor for comment as well as Sekisui House.