Churches zoned with brothels?

Picture Rayner (FDC)

Picture Rayner (FDC)

SHELLHARBOUR councillors are concerned that potentially allowing churches and brothels to legally operate in the same area could open up "a can-of-worms conflict".

At the July 1 meeting, councillors adopted a draft planning proposal to amend the Local Environmental Plan to permit places of public worship in light industrial zones.

Councillor Peter Moran said light industrial zones had been identified as an appropriate area for brothels to legally operate, and changing the LEP could create conflict between different operations.

"Like it or not, brothels are legal in this state and we have found an appropriate zoning for them," Cr Moran said.

"If a church was to build in a light industrial zone and a brothel, quite legally, comes along and wants to open up right next door, is that legal business going to be prevented because of the legal activities of a church next door?

"We're opening up a can-of-worms conflict here.

"We have not historically allowed churches in these zonings because it is seen that churches are more appropriately sited in residential zones." Cr Moran also said churches can often offer various operations like childcare, which would also not be suitable in an industrial area.

Mayor Marianne Saliba said the amendment stemmed from a request by local churches to build in Commerce Drive, Lake Illawarra.

"It [the church] is predominantly used on the weekend, however, they run welfare services out of it during the week," Cr Saliba said.

Councillor Kellie Marsh said there was a lack of industrial land in the region and the council must consider possible new industry.

"We should be doing everything in our power to work with people to see what we can do to bring in more players to create new industry and get manufacturing into Shellharbour City," Cr Marsh said.

Councillor Paul Rankin said adopting the proposal would fill vacant land and create more employment opportunities. "Realistically we don't manufacture anything in Shellharbour any more," Cr Rankin said.

■ The proposal will go to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, and then go on public exhibition.

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