A Bolton Point aged care facility that will exceed the area's standard height limit by more than double has been approved by Lake Macquarie City Council.
Councillors voted on the development application for the $32 million project at Monday's ordinary meeting.
The development, situated in Bolton Clarke's existing independent living facility - a 6.75-hectare lakeside site on The Ridgeway, will require the removal of 77 trees to accommodate a building footprint of about 2700 sqm.
Due to a steep slope, the building increases from two-storeys at the south to four-storeys at the north where it faces the water.
It has a maximum height of 17 metres, which comprises a nine-metre exceedance to the eight-metre maximum building height under the State Environmental Planning Policy and 8.5-metre maximum building height under the Lake Macquarie Local Environmental Plan.
The 108-room facility includes common lounge and dining rooms, staff facilities, parking for 48 vehicles, and a loading dock and service area with laundry, kitchen, storage and waste areas.
A staff report, which recommended approval, said the development had "high design merit" and would not be "obtrusive" to the area.
"Landscaping elements and tree retention effectively softens the bulk of the proposed development," it said.
"The location is sufficiently screened so as to mitigate adverse view impacts from public land and the lake.
"Elements of the building which would be visible are not considered obtrusive or inconsistent with the scenic values of the locality."
The report concluded the developer's submission to exceed the building height was "robust" and "adequately justifies the variation".
Two submissions were made about the DA by existing residents. Both raised concerns about access in an emergency as there is only one road to the site.
Those concerns were echoed in the meeting after Cr Wendy Harrison proposed deferring determination for a site inspection. Cr Kevin Baker agreed, saying an inspection "was appropriate".
"This is a DA, while it has got a lot of good points, the community has got a lot of angst about, particularly the height," he said.
Cr Baker said having a second access point was a key concern.
"You really get the feel how, potentially, the access road isn't adequate for the traffic that's there now, let alone [in the future]," he said.
"It's definitely worth going out there and getting a good look at it.
"While it is a really important project for our region, it's something we need to make sure we are doing due diligence with."
Cr Luke Cubis put forward an amendment to Cr Harrison's alternative motion to approve the development.
"I don't think we need to defer it any longer," he said.
"Everyone is aware of the reasons for or against.
"There's enough in the business papers to make a decision ... we need to get on with things."
The amendment vote was 5-5, leaving deputy mayor David Belcher with a casting vote.
"Considering it [approval] was the initial recommendation I'm happy to use my vote," he said.
When the amendment became the motion, councillors voted 7-3 to approve the development.