People power keeps the coffee flowing

The impact of ‘people power’ was in stark evidence on Tuesday at Noosa Council chambers when a unique local produce and coffee outlet located outside Cooroy was given a reprieve.

A retrospective application by Bus Stop Espresso, operating under ‘roadside stall’ conditions, was set for refusal by council as the site contains a vintage bus – itself a developing tourist attraction – selling coffee and snacks, which are not permitted under that permit.

But two things happened prior to Tuesday’s general committee meeting: firstly, that upon hearing of the threat to the business, what may be close to 1000 residents who use and support the business wrote to or emailed council asking that it be allowed to continue operating.

Secondly, Mayor Clare Stewart and a majority of councillors undertook a visit to the Mary River Road business the week before and were regaled with stories from supportive locals describing what the business has meant to them over the year it has been open.

One recurring theme was that it had provided a safe, community refuge for many isolated people during the Covid pandemic.

Members of two car clubs who frequent the business, due to plenty of off-road available parking, also made supportive representations.

Councillors told the meeting of their recollections of the visit, with Cr Amelia Lorentson saying councillors experienced “overwhelming support for this business”.

Mayor Stewart said she “saw a community come together because of this place”.

“I support the continuation of this family business, and I thank the owners and the community who have provided feedback to us,” Cr Stewart said.

Cr Joe Jurisevic said he “didn’t think anyone wants to see this closed”.

“The operation has grown organically of a scale where it needs to re-think its application,” he said.

Cr Brian Stockwell put an alternative motion to the staff’s refusal recommendation, that sought a permit for the business to continue in its current form while it also apply for an additional food and drink licence to allow the bus component to continue the sale of drinks and snacks into the future, while still selling local produce under its roadside stall provisions.

The motion indicated the business would have six months to apply for the additional licence, at an estimated cost of $6000.

The recommendation was passed unanimously.

Councillors acknowledged that the success of the Bus Stop business indicated a need to revisit conditions surrounding rural activities in the Noosa Plan following this decision, in relation to home-based business, tourism and small-scale agriculture, particularly given the hinterland community impacts of the Covid pandemic.

The recommendation will be ratified in Thursday’s Ordinary Meeting.


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