Church CEO slams ‘misinformation campaign’
THE Sawtell Parish CEO has hit back at what he calls a 'concerted misinformation campaign' against the unit development recently approved on church land.
The proposal is for eight units on the corner block between Boronia and Honeysuckle Streets and Fourth Ave.
The development application was narrowly approved at Coffs Harbour City Council's May 14 meeting but three Councillors lodged a rescission motion in the hope of overturning the approval.
With the rescission motion now defeated the approval can move ahead.
Mary Help of Christians Parish CEO Michael Darragh says there is no firm commencement date for the project at this stage.
"Potentially it will start sometime in the next 18 months," Mr Darragh said.
"Truth dispelled the misinformation. Procedural fairness allowed the facts to prevail in the face of a concerted misinformation campaign to create fear and anxiety in the local residents.
"The misinformation was presented by councillors on behalf of their residents. One example was the 'ancient trees' which are actually only decades old and have grown up in the sandy spoil left from building the original church."
But many Sawtell residents, including Charles Lucas, describe the development as conceptually poor, profit-driven and at odds with Catholic values.
"It reflects the uneasy marriage of Catholic values and ethos with their property development division," Mr Lucas said.
"The land was actually given to the church by Ozzie Sawtell. He was very enamoured with New York and this is why the streets are named First Avenue and Second Avenue and so on."
They say the block has already been leveraged with a strip of apartments on the Boronia St side. The new units will be built along Honeysuckle Street.
Mr Darragh says the church has listened to community concerns.
"Councillor Keith Rhoades is on the record twice for stating we do high quality developments and we will not be satisfied until we can deliver a high quality development to our neighbourhood," Mr Darragh said.
"We have listened to the genuine concerns and our neighbours can trust this will be reflected in the final build."
The Catholic Church is behind another controversial DA recently up for consideration by Council. It's for 52 units on Hastings St, Woolgoolga, across the road from the First Sikh Temple.
This development has been put out for a second round of public consultation with submissions closing on June 10.