Woolworths public submission extension appeal voted down

THE deadline to make submissions on the Woolworths development in Bermagui lapsed on Wednesday, despite a last-minute extension appeal.

At Wednesday afternoon’s Bega Valley Shire Council meeting Cr Keith Hughes requested an “urgent business” matter be dealt with and moved a motion that the deadline for public submissions be extended by three weeks.

The motion was lost 5-4.

Cr Hughes initially moved that the deadline be pushed back by an additional four weeks, but reined it in slightly after advice from BVSC group manager for planning and environment Andrew Woodley.

Developer Fabcot’s first plans for a Woolworths supermarket in Bermagui are still a matter before the Land and Environment Court, the court deferring any ruling until the second DA is considered.

Mr Woodley said the Land and Environment Court had directed that the council was to endeavour to deal with the matter prior to the first week of March.

He said the January 22 public submission deadline – which was itself extended briefly in light of the Christmas holiday period – allowed for an initial report by the February 12 BVSC meeting.

Then, should the matter be deferred, a quick turnaround could see a follow-up report to councillors on March 5 and then the results presented to the court by March 7 “as directed” Mr Woodley said.

He conceded that a three-week extension could foreseeably see an initial report to councillors at the March 5 meeting and then, if deferred, the BVSC could advise the court along those lines.

Cr Hughes said he felt the council “owed it to the community” to extend the submission deadline.

“I know this is similar to the previous DA,” he said.

“But I think we should be seen as not curtailing public discussion.

“I think an extension is appropriate to deal with the substance of the issue, not just the process.

“Due to the importance of the development – whether you’re for or against it – debate on it should not be curtailed or foreshortened.”

Cr Michael Britten spoke out against the extension saying there had already been plenty of time for the public to have their say.

“I’ve been receiving emails for and against since before Christmas,” he said.

“There has been plenty of time for people to be fully aware of the issues and I see no reason to play with the system of review and reporting.”

The motion was lost with Crs Britten, Tony Allen, Ann Mawhinney, Russell Fitzpatrick and Mayor Bill Taylor voting against the extension.

As such, an initial report on Fabcot’s re-lodged Woolworths DA and discussion of the submissions received are expected at the February 12 BVSC meeting.

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