A push for Wodonga councillors to be part of top-level talks about re-negotiating a lease deal at the Logic industrial hub has been rolled on the casting vote of mayor Kevin Poulton.
Cr Ron Mildren on Monday night wanted three councillors, Cr Poulton and chief executive Mark Dixon to enter into talks with Wodonga Solar Power, which had plans to establish an $80 million solar farm on the North Barnawartha site.
But the company had a formal request for an extension of a heads of agreement with council terminated in September last year when a grid connection couldn't be secured.
Council staff recommended the land originally proposed to be sold for $1.5 million be auctioned.
But Cr Poulton successfully pushed for the land not to be sold and a new lease with Wodonga Solar Power be crunched.
Cr Mildren went a step further and wanted councillors to be involved in the talks with the company rather than Mr Dixon only and cited the recent decision not to sell another block of land at Logic as an example why councillor input could be of value.
"I think by going to direct conversation at the principle level with councillors and Wodonga Solar we will set the principles in place on which staff can then go and undertake the detail," he said.
"It's going to be a much more expedient way to get to the other end of this process.
"The comment that this is operational is patently incorrect.
"It's not deciding garbage or road maintenance issues."
IN OTHER NEWS
Cr Mildren was backed by Cr Libby Hall and Cr Olga Quilty with Cr Graeme Simpfendorfer, Cr John Watson and Cr Poulton opposed.
Cr Kat Bennett was an apology for the meeting.
Cr Simpfendorfer feared councillors were straying too deep into an "operational area".
"Re-negotiation I do support, but I'm not quite there yet on getting down into that negotiation," he said.
Cr Watson was vehemently opposed to the move.
"We can set a terrible precedent here," he said.
"We have a very good CEO and very good staff to negotiate on our behalf."
Cr Quilty was supportive of councillor involvement in resurrecting the project.
"We are not looking at selling a small piece of land, we are looking at a whole precinct," she said.
The land's original purpose was to serve as a buffer zone between Logic and Indigo Shire.
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