Friday, May 25, 2012

Busybodies Scuttle Motel Plans

I've been following the progress of a plan to build a 36-unit, 2 storey motel complex in a leafy mixed use suburb of Orange in New South Wales, Australia.

It is proposed that the motel property be unmanned and guests after booking online would gain access via a text message on the day of arrival with a room number and security code. The property will be monitored by security cameras and an off-site employee would be on-call 24-hours if needed.

I've got mixed feelings about these types of complexes as they take away the personification and the hosting aspect of a motel that is manned with owners that have a vested interest in their business. However, there is a market for this type of development and if someone wants to risk their own funds - then so be it!

A motel is always a good neighbor. The nature of the business dictates that the commercial building and grounds are well maintained and the activity of hosting guests has little impact on the immediate environment. A swoop over the proposed site courtesy of Google, would indicate that the new complex would fit well into the location amongst established mixed residential and small businesses.

What has fascinated me, is the reaction that this seemingly innocuous development has caused.
Locals have labelled it a ''car thieve's paradise'', a ''double-storey noise factory'', akin to a ''Port Botany cargo terminal'', and a ''front for an illegal brothel''.
To make matters worse for the developer, the Sydneysider Bryce McDougall, they do not like the look of it or that it would share a driveway with a childcare centre.
While in New Zealand we can bemoan that bureaucracy often stands in the way of progress, Australia seems to be just as vexed. After being influenced by the hysteria of a couple of busybody townsfolk and their own misplaced bias, the Orange City Council's Sustainable Development Committee rejected the application with the following whimsical rationale:

The hapless developer that wanted to risk his own capital and add value to a community has been knocked back by cardigan-wearing non-producers that are channeling 1940's FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that waged war against motels, which he labeled "a new home of crime in America, a new home of disease, bribery, corruption, crookedness, rape, white slavery, thievery, and murder." 

We wish the developer all the best for the inevitable appeal.

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