Church faith restored

By Grace Jones | posted on September 19, 2019

THE Shire of Denmark ate a slice of humble pie on Tuesday night by unanimously approving a development application to build a Baptist Church on South Coast Highway after previously denying the request.

In May this year the Shire Council refused Pastor Graeme Ritchie’s application to build on Lot 166 on the grounds that the building size was too large in comparison to neighbouring residential homes.

After the application was denied, Pastor Ritchie went to the State Administrative Tribunal in August for a mediation hearing with the Shire to consider a way forward without progressing to an official tribunal hearing.

During public question time, Pastor Ritchie appeared before Council and said some community members had raised the issue about the size of the proposed building.

“It’s a complete furphy,” he said.

“We have met all of the conditions, we have tried to do everything to planning rules and we have always been transparent in our application.”

Councillors Kingsley Gibson and Roger Seeney moved and seconded the motion.

Director of Assets and Sustainable Development David King said there had been no changes to the scale of the building application, however the applicants would need to seek Council approval to hold events at the church that were not of a public worship nature.

Cr Gibson said he was happy to support the application as his previous issues with scale combined with mixed use had been addressed.

After the application was passed unanimously, Pastor Ritchie commented that he would have clapped but decided not to after President Ceinwen Gearon had instructed the public gallery to keep their physical displays of appreciation to a minimum.