CONTROVERSIAL: The development of the former McCosker Motors site was approved by the Southern Downs Regional Council this week. Photo Contributed
CONTROVERSIAL: The development of the former McCosker Motors site was approved by the Southern Downs Regional Council this week. Photo Contributed Contributed

Council backflip on Woolworths servo

IN A backflip almost worthy of an Olympic gold medal, Southern Downs councillors have voted to approve the development of a Woolworths petrol station at the former McCosker Motors site - just a month after shutting down the application.

Stanthorpe Chamber of Commerce president John Bylicki said the Chamber did not deny a Woolworths petrol station would benefit the community.

"The Chamber is committed to supporting local business who are the most valuable contributors to the prosperity and wellbeing of our community," he said.

"The economic benefit of the proposed Woolworths service station is not questioned but the public needs to understand that, unlike locally owned business, this business is owned by a large corporation where profit is taken out of the community and the only inputs are wages and services used."

Competition issues were among reasons behind the council backing away from the application the first time around.

They were also met with a decent amount of public objection, mainly from those opposed to a petrol station re-opening next to the childcare centre.

However an online poll run on the Border Post website for the past two days found that 69% (of the 82 people who took part in the poll) were for the council approving the application.

Only 24% were against it completely and a further 6% said they did not mind either way.

The decision was not as clear-cut in the Warwick Council chambers yesterday, with Mayor Peter Blundell called in to cast the deciding vote.

Councillors Vic Pennisi and Denise Ingram both left the room for the vote, citing conflicts of interest, while councillors Ross Bartley, Cameron Gow and Jamie Mackenzie were against the development.

Cr Blundell voted for the development along with Cr Jo McNally and Cr Neil Meiklejohn.

Director of planning and environment Ken Harris slammed councillors who didn't wish to make a decision for the second meeting running.

"The current premise looks daggy, if you don't approve it will remain unattractive," Mr Harris said.

"It's your role as councillors, you have planning authority for the region, and it's your responsibility to make these decisions.

"You're failing in your duty if you don't make a decision, in fact you don't have a choice, you either approve or reject."

Cr Jamie Mackenzie said he didn't believe it was their role as councillors to determine if the development was appropriate.

"I would suggest we make no decision, either way we will be criticised," Cr Mackenzie said.

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