The lands, measuring a few acres, are not in the centre of town and adjoin their convent building and school in the New Street/St Mary’s Terrace area of Killarney.
The lands are zoned for social and community facilities and their market value would be greatly enhanced for commercial development if given town centre zoning. However, Killarney town clerk Michael O’Leary said council management was opposed to town centre zoning which would be “entirely inappropriate” and not in keeping with the proper planning and development of the area.
The lands are in the shadow of several listed, ecclesiastical buildings, including St Mary’s Cathedral, Bishop’s House and St Brendan’s College.
The submission from the nuns was one of 68 made to a draft Killarney Development Plan 2009-2015 being considered.
South Kerry Independent Alliance councillor Michael Gleeson said the sisters had made an enormous contribution to life in Killarney and were conscious of the fact that they lived amid some of the finest buildings in the country.
He said they would not wish to obliterate such buildings from view and would not do anything to damage the attractiveness of Killarney.
The council could facilitate the sisters with a changed zoning “somewhere in between” the present zoning of the land and what they were seeking, he said.
Labour councillor Sean O’Grady maintained town centre zoning for the lands would be “very loose” and retail zoning would be more appropriate.
“I think the sisters would be satisfied with retail zoning,” he said.
Acting mayor Brian O’Leary said that if the sisters came up with a suitable plan in keeping with the existing buildings in the area, it would be favourably looked on by the council.
“But, the council can’t tell them what to do.
“If a sensible application is made, it will be dealt with,” Mr O’Leary added.