FERMOY COUNCILLORS INVITED TO MEETING ON HOTEL
Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan this week confirmed to The Avondhu, details of an invitation from Lawton Developments to members of the council, inviting them to attend a meeting with a view to discussing the establishment of a hotel on the site of Fermoy House. It is understood that the meeting, details of which appear in a letter marked ‘strictly confidential’, will take place on Wednesday next, May 7 and will be chaired by Fr Aquin Casey Adm.
In a statement to The Avondhu, Cllr O’Donovan says, “The sole reason I am putting a response into the public domain is that I received a written invitation as a public representative, who could influence the rezoning of the lands that the Lawton family have an interest in developing, and in such circumstances, my only objective rests with the electorate of Fermoy Town Council.”
Cllr O’Donovan wishes to indicate his support for the rezoning of the land concerned and the subsequent development of a hotel by Lawton Developments on the site of Fermoy House. When the councillors previously voted on the rezoning issue however, Cllr O’Donovan was one of the five who voted against the contravention of the town plan.
Plans to build a 100-bed hotel and 73 houses on the 14-acre site by the Blackwater River, caused a storm of controversy in May and June of 2005, with the community split over the merits of the scheme. The development was to be built at an estimated cost of between €35-€40million and would have seen Fermoy House demolished to make way for the hotel.
Meetings were held between concerned residents; councillors claimed they were being ‘kept in the dark’ with regard to the plan; others claimed they were being intimidated and a public meeting, attended by over 200 people was held in the rowing club on Tuesday, May 31, 2005 where some heated exchanges took place.
Some members of the town council received a solicitor’s letter from a fellow councilor on the issue, the councilors in question claiming they were being intimidated. One of them claimed he had been visited at his house and told he would be tied up for months with prolonged legal action if he voted for the hotel. Two members of the council executive were also recipients of the solicitor’s letter.
Supporters felt a new hotel was not alone a great opportunity for the town, but a real necessity. It would create jobs and encourage tourists to visit. It would breath new life into the town, offering a large scale venue for social functions and business conventions that were being lost to neighbouring towns.
Opponents however, went as far as to say they were suspicious of the intentions of the developers fearing the site may become ‘apartment blocks or holiday homes with no community soul’. After much heated debate the council eventually voted against the project by the narrow margin of 5 votes to 4 and the subsequent appeal to An Bord Pleanala to overturn that decision was unsuccessful.
Let’s hope that next Wednesday’s meeting is the start of a positive drive for a new hotel for the town.
One councillor who does not wish to be named at this point, has already expressed disappointment that news of the meeting was broken to the media saying: “The letter from Lawton Developments to the councillors was marked ‘private and confidential’ and should have been treated as such. To have broken that confidence, I consider to be an act of sabotage by whoever was responsible”.
Friday 2nd May 9:49am