There was standing room only at a public meeting held in Bulahdelah last week to discuss the proposed development project with the Developer Peter Kampfner.
After a lively debate which was accompanied by applause, cheers and heckling from the crowd, a show of hands indicated an overwhelming majority of community members present were in support of the project.
Hamptons Property Services representative Kristy Hodgkinson outlined the details of the proposal before community members were given the opportunity to publicly voice their opinions.
Allan Freihaut was one of many who spoke in favour of the project.
“If our main street is only attracting seven to eight percent of highway traffic into town, what is wrong with giving another business the opportunity to attract further passing trade,” he asked.
“I can’t honestly see how doubling our spendable population can cause our town any harm, if we don’t grow our population I’m pretty sure it will come back and bite us in the butt.”
Mr Freihaut also said the project would address the lack of employment opportunities in the town.
Speakers against included Shiralee Café owner Chris Garrod who stated, “If you care about Bulahdelah, I would suggest that you strongly oppose the Service Centre.”
“I’m all for building houses, get them built, then build the Service Centre,” she said.
“If you build it out there now, all you’re doing is putting the existing cafés and service stations out of business.”
Mrs Garrod suggested Council and business operators could get together and come up with ideas for growth in the town.
“We’ve got 52 weeks in every year that we can come up with something to perfect Bulahdelah,” she said.
In response, Mr Kampfner said the bypass was completed four years ago and there had been 200 weeks to make something happen.
“The project offers a huge opportunity for progress and positive growth by boosting the population, boosting tourism and funnelling people into the town,” he said.
“Thirty-five years ago, the population of the town was 100 more than what it is today. That’s 35 years of growth and you’ve gone down 100 people. This town deserves a future and deserves to thrive,” he added.
Mr Kampfner said he is willing to discuss the project with community members and is happy to take both positive and negative feedback.
The project is still in its initial phase and Mr Kampfner expects the approval process will take 12-18 months.