Councillors to decide Maccas fate

BY THE end of today, the people of the Clarence Valley should know if a McDonald’s fast food outlet will be built at Yamba.

In the 55 days since the application for a Maccas first became public, protest meetings have been held, anti-Maccas T-shirts printed, for and against Facebook sites established, and coordinated campaigns run to oppose and support the development.

Now it is time for the councillors to decide.

This afternoon the seven councillors who have not declared a pecuniary interest will vote on the application.

The two councillors who will not be taking part in the debate or voting are Mayor Richie Williamson, as his employer has a major contract with the applicant, and Cr Karen Toms, as the potential new business poses direct competition to one of her businesses. Cr Williamson said declaring an interest was difficult but was done to make the process ‘open and transparent’.

Councillors yesterday declined to say which way they would vote, saying they would go into this afternoon’s meeting with an open mind.

Deputy Mayor, Cr Jim Simmons, said while he had no comment before the meeting, he could see several issues with the development.

“The increased traffic to Treelands Drive is a concern of mine, however, I feel that the opening hours of the business are unjustified,” he said.

“The midnight opening hours have the potential to create social problems.

“It will be interesting to listen to the debate and I will be making my decision in the chamber.”

The deputations presented at last Tuesday’s Environment, Economic and Community Committee meeting changed Cr Craig Howe’s opinion on the matter.

“Before last week’s meeting, I was sitting on the pro-McDonald’s side of the fence,” he said.

“The deputations that were presented were very good and drew attention to several potential issues.

“The applicant has done everything correctly. The application was made for a business to be operational in an area that is correctly zoned. We need to make a decision that will be in the public’s best interest. That decision is not always popular, but will hopefully be right in the long run.”

Councillors Ian Dinham and Pat Comben also declined to give a definite answer, saying that they wanted to hear all of the pros and cons and wanted to consider all of the information before they cast their vote.

Cr Ian Tiley refused to comment, saying he preferred to keep all debate confined to the walls of the chamber.

Councillors Sue Hughes and Margaret McKenna were unavailable for comment as The Daily Examiner was going to print.

The council meeting will take place at 4pm today in the Maclean chamber.

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