Yass Valley Council has approved a new highway service centre opposite the existing highway service centre, comprising McDonald’s and KFC, on Yass Valley Way in North Yass.
Plans suggest the second service centre will be just over half the size of the existing centre, but could offer Hungry Jack’s and C Coffee to the town’s 6500 residents and Hume Highway motorists.
OTR (On The Run), which currently operates more than 145 petrol stations and convenience stores in South Australia, is in the process of purchasing the land from Yass Valley mayor Rowena Abbey and her husband, Brendan, to build the newly approved centre.
As well as fuel pumps and parking for 95 cars, coaches and trucks, there will also be a truckers’ lounge and amenities available at the service centre.
However, the owners of the existing highway service centre say the new development should never have been approved.
Owen Lennie, director of Farrell Heidelberg which owns Yass Highway Service Centre argues that while the Yass Highway Service Centre was built on land zoned specifically for a highway service centre, the new service centre has been approved in an industrial zone.
A service station is acceptable in an industrial zone, but not a full service centre, said Mr Lennie.
The applicant would have been required to construct a road linked directly to the Hume Highway if council had required the land to be rezoned specifically for a highway service centre, according to Mr Lennie.
Instead, in 2018, council amended its local environmental plan to allow a service centre in an industrial zone.
“But I suppose when the mayor is in favour of something, it’s inevitable isn’t it?” said Mr Lennie.
Mayor Abbey has been transparent about her ownership of the land and left the council meeting while Yass Valley councillors approved the development on Wednesday, 28 October.
She and her husband are set to benefit from the sale of the land to OTR, and the other blocks of land they own around the new service centre.
Mayor Abbey said her currently vacant 24 subdivision also has interest from a tyre centre and contractors involved with local projects with TransGrid, Snowy Hydro and wind farms.
She also said there is some interest in building a hotel/motel at Yass Industrial Park and a rural business such as Landmark or Elders.
Mayor Abbey and her husband are also considering developing a block but want to finish building the two roads that are a part of the industrial subdivision and infrastructure first.
Convicted drug smuggler Rohan Arnold was an applicant and a director of Yass Industrial Park, but his involvement ceased in 2018 after he was arrested.