Resort decision in state’s hands

Colac Otway Shire Council will ask the Victorian Planning Minister to “call in” an application for a $70-million tourist resort near Apollo Bay.

Colac Otway Shire Council will ask the Victorian Planning Minister to “call in” an application for a $70-million tourist resort near Apollo Bay.

Councillors voted five-to-two in favour of an officer recommendation to let an independent panel consider the application, along with 155 objections and 10 letters of support, with Planning Minister Richard Wynne to make the final decision if he agrees to the request.

Apollo Bay residents challenged the council at this week’s council meeting, raising multiple concerns including questioning “the democratic process” and the recommendation for a ministerial call-in.

But councillors Joe McCracken, Kate Hanson, Terry Woodcroft, Stephen Hart and Chris Potter voted to ask the Minister to step in on the major tourism proposal because they believed the community would get a better opportunity to have its say, taking into consideration “local, regional and state implications”.

Councillors Jason Schram and Chris Smith voted against the call-in because they believed the council should take responsibility for the decision.

Cr Schram, who received applause from the objectors in the gallery, said the council should make a decision, regardless of whether the developer or objectors took the decision to VCAT.

But Cr Potter said he had seen an independent panel in action and he was confident that the call-in process would “get the best outcome for objectors”.

“We have to get it right for a number of people, not just the people of Apollo Bay but also for tourism nationally,” he said.

Cr Potter said the proposed development was an emotive issue and the council needed to “take the emotion out and weigh-up the issues and see where we sit”.

Cr Schram said he believed the council didn’t need to take the emotion out and the decision shouldn’t be made by people “in Spring Street”.

But Cr Potter said he had seen an independent panel in action and he was confident that the call-in process would “get the best outcome for objectors”.

For the full story see today’s Colac Herald.

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