THE community continues to want answers about the proposed Cape Otway Road Australia (CORA) development, with Surf Coast Shire councillors quizzed on the council’s position at a public meeting on Sunday.
At their meeting on Tuesday this week, councillors received a report about the council’s submission to the planning scheme amendment that would facilitate the $352 million project south of Lake Modewarre, which would include an elite sporting facility, a 128-room hotel, 61 eco lodges and a retail area.
Sunday’s meeting at the Modewarre Memorial Hall was the second in as many weeks about CORA organised by the community, and was held to hear the council’s stance on the project ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.
An open invitation was sent to all Surf Coast councillors, with James McIntyre, Heather Wellington and Tony Revell attending the meeting. Councillors Martin Duke and Margot Smith were apologies.
The three councillors present said that while the state government would deal with the planning proposal due to the project’s scope, the council’s official stance on the development could be influential. People at the meeting were not unanimously against the proposal, though several questioned the lack of community engagement around the matter. One person said that having not heard about the project since it was announced in December 2017, they had “thought it went by the wayside.”
Some also objected to the council, the state government and CORA’s proponents initially starting talks about CORA without the community knowing anything about it.
Cr Wellington said that she felt the community should have been engaged from the beginning.
“If I had known about this, I would have argued black and blue to involve the community. It is not good practice to be making decisions behind closed doors.”
Cr Revell said that he could only speak from his knowledge of what had occurred during his short time as a councillor, but “the lack of consultation does concern me.”
He did, however, say council officers had been very thorough in their analysis.
“I think our officers have done a pretty good job in turning over every stone.”
A sentiment shared by the councillors and most of the people in the meeting was that they would like more detail about the development.
Cr McIntyre said he felt this put the council in a difficult position.
“I don’t think we’re in possession of any real information to express support for the application.”