Cr Sam Romano was re-elected deputy mayor of Orange City Council for a second term on an emotional night which also saw council approval for the Lantana Place social housing development overturned.
Cr Romano defeated Cr Tony Mileto in the final ballot for deputy mayor after other nominees, councillors Jeff Whitton and Scott Munro, were knocked out of the running in early voting.
However, the most dramatic event of the night was council deciding to reverse its decision of two weeks ago when it had supported a Housing Plus plan for 10 social housing units in Lantana Place.
During the public forum section of the council meeting eight residents of the area pleaded with councillors to refuse the development.
They cited concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour plus planning factors including the height of retaining walls and over-development of the site they feared would arise if the development was allowed.
Four speakers from Housing Plus also spoke in defence of the project saying Orange was suffering from a severe shortage of low-cost housing.
Cr Kevin Duffy said the original council approval did not take into account public interest.
Councillors said council needed to come up with a better policy for where to allow social housing complexes in Orange.
In the end council voted 8-3 (Cr Jason Hamling was absent from the meeting) to rescind the original decision and then voted by the same margin to refuse the Housing Plus development application.
In another matter councillors voted against a staff report recommending the removal of a 25-metre landmark gum tree on the corner of Dora and William streets.
The tree is now likely to be removed after councillors said it posed serious risks to the adjacent building and to the public.
Council asked for staff to prepare a report for the next meeting supporting the removal of the tree.
Mayor Cr Reg Kidd said the tree was "magnificent" but it was in the wrong place.
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