Passionate petitions on McDonald's

ALMOST every seat in the Maclean Council Chambers public gallery was filled at Tuesday’s Environment, Economic and Community Committee meeting.

The attention was all due to the first item for discussion, the proposed McDonald’s development in Yamba.

Twelve passionate and well-researched deputations were presented to Council, however, a final recommendation by the committee was not made as the matter was deferred to the full Council meeting next week.

A number of issues were presented, some with more flair than others, which included lack of public interest, crime prevention, Yamba x-factor and the sustainability of the proposed development.

The developer, Scott Campbell, and an externally employed town planner also made a presentation and attempted to address some of the concerns raised during the evening.

The owner of Smoko’s Snack Bar in the Yamba Industrial Estate and a concerned business owner Cate Murphy presented a fairly humorous deputation while clad in a “Say No to McDonald’s” T-shirt.

She brought up training and how the McDonald’s training system was supposed to be one of the best in the country. Cate also mentioned that one of Scott Campbell’s staff at the Ballina McDonald’s gave out his mobile number.

“We know how to train people too, and you can bet your life anyone I trained wouldn’t give out my mobile number,” she said.

“The report talks about the demolition of the cinema. Once again, research has not been done because he (the applicant) doesn’t know we have another. He has said Yamba residents will have reasonable access to a cinema in Grafton. We have reasonable access to a McDonald’s in Grafton.

“If this goes ahead, a lot of people should start practising saying, ‘Would you like fries with that?’.”

Bronwyn Lopez, a concerned resident, drew attention to the sheer size of the proposed development, stating that it has a 40 per cent larger seating capacity than the highway McDonald’s at both Grafton and Ballina, and the amount of rubbish McDonald’s eateries have produced in other areas.

“Clean-up Australia’s 07/08 New South Wales survey indicated that 14 per cent of all branded litter picked up by volunteers came from MacDonald’s, which led the survey,” Bronwyn said.

“I also have concerns about the developer having to include crime prevention in their application,” she added. “The Young McDonald’s has stated that it is hiring its own private security guards. Given Yamba’s already inadequate police numbers, this community resource should not be stretched.”

Tania Williams, the vice-president of the Yamba Chamber of Commerce, made interesting comparisons between the multinational corporation and local businesses.

“Competition between McDonald’s and local eateries – a fairer match might be seen if the Melbourne Storm got to play the under 10s. With or without the salary cap,” she said.

“The DA stated that the presence of McDonald’s would give residents, tourists and the travelling public an opportunity to visit a family restaurant in Yamba rather than travel to neighbouring centres. Personally, I find that statement absurd, and on behalf of Yamba’s hospitality industry I find it insulting.

“Australian Traveller marked Yamba as the number one town for many reasons, not least because of its x-factor. That very thing that separates us from our commercial neighbours.

“Once our point of difference is lost, it is gone forever.”

A town planner who works for a company called GHD was representing McDonald’s and Mr Campbell on this issue and countered arguments of permissibility presented during the deputations.

“The restaurant is permitted in the existing zone and it is permitted in the proposed zone. The area is zoned 3A which is a business zone.

“This development is consistent with Council’s commercial and retail strategy which specifically directs new businesses to look at the existing 3A zones should they wish to be located in Yamba. McDonald’s has done exactly that – sought out an under used part of the existing 3A zone and have proposed to put their development in that zone,” the town planner said.

“There is also no evidence to suggest or support that there will be an increased level of criminal activity associated with a family restaurant. This is an unlicensed premises and is merely a family restaurant. McDonald’s nonetheless have agreed to reduce its opening hours as a result of the public concern expressed about 24/7 opening hours.”

Mr Campbell, nominated licensee for the proposed restaurant, said that one of the biggest benefits of the development would be local employment.

“I have already taken calls on the mobile phone that was mentioned before from people applying for jobs. Seventy-five to 100 jobs will be made available to the people of Yamba, and there will be further career paths made available to staff. This will inject $750,000 back into the economy. I am committed to the economic and social wellbeing of the community surrounding Yamba. I am the guy that wants to bring the benefits of McDonald’s into the town.”

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