THE fate of a popular beachside cafe will be decided today, when Ballina Shire councillors vote on an application to expand the Belle General at Shelly Beach, Ballina.
The application is to increase the size of the cafe, number of seats and hours of operation.
It comes after council investigations revealed the Belle General was operating outside its current conditions of consent.
The building, on Shelly Beach Rd, has included a general store since 1958.
In 2010 an application was approved to change part of the store to a cafe with alfresco dining.
The council is now considering an application to increase the size and capacity of the approved cafe.
This would involve increasing the total number of seats from 28 (14 internal seats and six footpath seats for the cafe, along with eight footpath seats for the general store) to 57 seats (40 internal seats and 17 footpath seats, all for the cafe).
It is also proposed to change the opening hours from 8am to 7am.
When the application was placed on public exhibition earlier this year, the council received 71 submissions, with 50 of those in support of the application.
Praise for the Belle General included the high quality of food and customer service; generation of tourism by attracting people to Ballina; and a lack of similar cafes in the area.
Many of the objections are from nearby residents, with complaints about parking, noise and the loss of amenity.
Council staff have recommended refusal of the application to expand the Belle General.
The report states: "The proposed expansion and intensification of the cafe will have unreasonable impacts on the amenity of neighbouring residents in terms of noise, odour and car parking.
"The proposal generates significant additional demand for car parking which cannot be provided on-site.
"The proposed location of the disabled access ramp, waste bins and services will prevent vehicular access to, and car parking at the rear of the site.
"This will further increase demand for car parking in the street and impact on neighbouring residents.
"The size and intensification of the development is not considered to be compatible with the character and amenity of the surrounding neighbourhood."
Councillors will vote on the application at today's meeting which starts at 9am.
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