Town manager won’t back rezoning

THE controversy surrounding the proposed rezoning of the Gleneagle Hotel property in Killarney has taken another turn, with Killarney Town Council manager Tom Curran announcing he cannot go along with the wishes of the council on the issue.

Against the advice of council management, the council decided last month in favour of rezoning the 20-acre site for town centre development - although it is more than a mile from the centre of Killarney.

Mr Curran told this week’s council meeting that he cannot act in accordance with the motion.

“I believe such a zoning would be inappropriate for a property that is, effectively, on the boundary of the town and the county.

“Also, if town centre zoning was granted for it, a precedent could be set for applications to rezone other properties which are well away from the centre of Killarney. But, I would have no difficulty with rezoning the Gleneagle property for tourism/leisure activities.”

He told councillors they can table a Section 140 motion directing him to act on the rezoning if they wish to proceed with it.

There has also been a development concerning an ethics investigation arising from the proposed rezoning, with Killarney mayor Tom Doherty announcing his withdrawal from the investigation after legal advice.

Under the law, such investigations are to be carried out jointly by the town manager and the mayor.

The ethics registrar of Kerry County Council received a complaint that two councillors - Patrick O’Donoghue and Sheila Casey - may have a conflict of interest in the vote.

Mr O’Donoghue is managing director of the Gleneagle Hotel and Ms Casey is an employee of the company. He did not vote on the rezoning, but she voted for it. However, Mr O’Donoghue lobbied councillors prior to the motion being discussed.

Regarding Mr Doherty’s withdrawal from the investigation, because of a possible conflict of interest as he was a signatory to the motion calling for the rezoning of the property, Mr Curran said he understood the mayor’s position.

He also said he did not know where the investigation stood as the law clearly stated such investigations had to be carried out by the manager and the mayor.

“I have asked for senior counsel’s advice on whether I can proceed with the investigation on my own, or whether the matter should now be referred to the Ethics in Public Office Commission,” he said.

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