Tweed Shire councillor Joan van Lieshout says the approval of plans for a McDonald’s restaurant in south Murwillumbah marked a sad day for the local community.
The project was passed at this weeks council meeting by a vote of four to two.
The developers of the complex, which features a 24-hour fast-food outlet and a supermarket, will have to comply with more than 120 consent conditions.
However, Cr van Lieshout says it was a short-sighted decision.
“I’m just so upset at this motion because I’m visionary in this,” she said.
“I believe there’s nothing like Murwillumbah, nothing else like Tweed or the region we have here and decisions like this to allow the same old to come back and not be creative in how we can produce the future is very sad.
“We are concerned about culture, we are concerned about our landscape, we’re concerned about how our small businesses can thrive.
“We’re heading down a road where economic development will be impacted by a GFC [global financial crisis] and yet here we are approving a development that is going to take business out of the centre of Murwillumbah.”
Tweed Mayor Barry Longland voted in favour of the proposal.
He likened the issue to plans for a telephone tower, a greyhound racing track or a brothel.
“It’s one that no councillor relishes having to debate but one must look at the issue on its merits and I think there are positive aspects about the development, notwithstanding it’s meeting the planning rules, that make it reasonable for approval,” he said.
Cr Longland says the issue generated fierce community debate.
“There have been many communications with councillors objecting to it, there have also been those who have seen it as a good thing for the town, so yes, I think it’s fair to say that there’s quite a division of opinion about it,” he said.
He says he hopes time will heal the divisions.