Tensions rise as funeral DA deadline looms
TENSIONS continue to rise as the deadline looms for community submissions over the sale of the Maclean Services Club site.
Last year, the Maclean RSL sub-branch voted to sell the premises which led to an offer of $1.3 million by the Bennett family, pending development application approval to convert the premises into a funeral home.
An identical offer was later made by Maclean Services Club, who lease the premises, but the club has since gone into voluntary administration forcing their offer to be put aside.
After the deadline for submissions was extended from June 30 to Friday, July 10, residents have used social media to encourage others to voice their opinion on the DA to Clarence Valley Council.
"It appears that only a handful of people have been aware that a DA had in fact been lodged, and worse, that public submissions on the proposal closed today, 30 June," former town planner Warren Rackham posted across several Clarence Valley Facebook groups.
"If you are concerned about the loss of your club, and more particularly to a funeral parlour being located right in the main street and how that might affect our town's image, please act NOW, by writing your concerns and sending your submissions."
Maclean RSL sub-branch president Stephen Walton said rejection of the funeral development application won't result in the return of the Maclean Services Club.
"A Facebook site has encouraged people to oppose the DA by suggesting that stopping the sale will bring back the Services Club, which is simply wrong," Mr Walton said.
"The reality is that there is only one offer on the table to purchase the sub-branch premises and the choice becomes either boarding the place up or giving a local business a fair go.
"The Club has operated at a loss for years. It closed in March and is now in the hands of administrators."
Further clarifying the situation, the Maclean RSL sub-branch Facebook page revealed the Maclean Services Club had allegedly been in financial trouble prior to the decision to sell the site.
"You will recall in 2018/19 we believed that the Club's days were numbered since it has operated at a loss for years, even though the sub-branch provided it with significant rent reductions (valued at upwards of $250K since 2012)," the post said.
"With that in mind our members weighed up whether our charitable funds would be better spent on needy veterans or maintaining an ageing building with little prospect of recouping the investment required to maintain it.
"We now feel vindicated that the decision to sell our premises was correct."
The post went on to clarify that the sale of the site had no bearing on the Maclean Services Club going into voluntary administration last month.
"The Club's lease allowed it to trade on until 2022 and its demise is arguably a failure of management and decisions that ran down what were, just two years ago, sufficient cash reserves to survive the COVID shutdown," it said.
With only days left until submissions close, the Maclean RSL sub-branch has also started its own campaign to encourage members and friends to write letters of support to council.
The development application isn't expected to reach a council meeting until next month.
Take a look back at previous Daily Examiner coverage of this ongoing local issue:
June 04: Sub-branch backs Maclean RSL sale
June 10: CEO on late bid for Maclean RSL