A $70-million tourist resort proposed for Apollo Bay will go to an independent planning panel without the support of Colac Otway Shire Council, following a unanimous vote this week.
About 100 people packed into Apollo Bay’s senior citizens’ centre for a three-hour special meeting on Wednesday to present concerns and listen to the council deliberate on whether it would give its support to Oceans United Investments Group’s plan to build a 180-room hotel complex and 82 villas on Barham River Road.
Each community member who spoke in opposition to the planning proposal, predominantly based on the size, visual impact and location of the resort, received a round of applause.
Councillors also received applause as they explained the difficulty of their decision to oppose the resort, including Cr Chris Smith who read out a re-worked version of Joni Mitchell’s song Big Yellow Taxi to say “they paved paradise and put up a mega hotel”, which he said he hoped wouldn’t happen.
But whether the tourism project goes ahead will be left to the State Government Planning Minister, on advice from an independent panel, and a final decision is unlikely before next year.
The next step will be a directions hearing on August 23, while a panel hearing, expected to continue for up to 10 days, is scheduled to start on September 12.
Oceans United Investments Group chair Graham Duff, who was unable to attend the special council meeting, said he remained confident the development would get the green light from the State Government.
Mr Duff said he expected the councillors to vote against the planning officer’s recommendation, which was that the council should provide conditional support to the tourism development.
“The decision of the council last night came as no surprise, it was expected,” he said.
See today’s Colac Herald for more.