Macksville's Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall will become a group home for recovering addicts

GROUP HOME: Situated on Wallace St, Macksville, just past the cemetery
GROUP HOME: Situated on Wallace St, Macksville, just past the cemetery

The owner of the former Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall site on Wallace St, Macksville, has been given the official green light to move ahead with his plans to create a group home (AAGANA) for 11 men recovering from substance abuse.

David Ney spoke to Nambucca Shire councillors at their August 31 meeting in support of his development application, pointing out anomalies in the costs levied and requesting some recalculations.

He also refuted claims the group home would be "taking jobs from locals".

"Since we have been operating in the shire more than 80 people have moved through the facility - not one who does not come from here has stayed here," Mr Ney said.

"Our clients push trolleys, work in op. shops and help farmers with weed eradication - none of those positions are paid, so there are no jobs being taken."

He said the business was a good example of what the council had been asking for, which was more investment and development in the shire.

"We employ five people and could employ more.

"Our work is about helping people move out of addiction and beyond the welfare mentality. It would be ludicrous for the council to think it is immune to the drug problem, there is an enormous problem here and we can help."

The tabled report noted that a development application for a group home could not be refused without an assessment of its need in the community.

Council officers wrote that given the majority of clients were not from the local area, the applicant had not demonstrated the local need and the council could therefore refuse the application - or consent to its use for those from the local community only.

"We've never had rehab here in the shire - everyone here has to go to Kempsey. Alcohol is a big problem and we can help here"

Cr Martin Ballangarry

Cr Susan Jenvey moved that consent be granted with the removal of the need for a register of names and well as the two year licence.

"This company is the only one working in this space," she said.

"We can't put up a wall as to who comes here and uses the facility - people from here use facilities elsewhere. It is always better to have people in recovery."

Cr Martin Ballangarry said he was bewildered by the resistance to the application.

"We've never had rehab here in the shire - everyone here has to go to Kempsey. Alcohol is a big problem and we can help here," Cr Ballangarry said.

Cr Anne Smyth also spoke in favour of removing the two year licence.

"Two years is not long enough, especially when we are charging upwards of $45,000 ... that is simply not fair," Cr Smyth said.

Cr Rhonda Hoban said she believed the council's first priority should be to look after "our own".

"I cannot support this if we are offering rehabilitation for people from other areas," Cr Hoban said.

The motion was passed with the votes of Crs Jones, Smyth, Jenvey and Ballangarry. Crs Hoban and John Wilson voted against it.

Both went on the record saying they would have supported the original motion which catered to locals.

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