Council meeting 9 May 2017

Councillors present: Crs Surace, Byrne, Sipek, Gauci-Maurici, Nation, Cusack, Marshall

Councillors absent: Crs Lawrence, Sharpe

102a-104 Maribyrnong Rd, Moonee Ponds

Cr Byrne moved a motion for approval, with an amendment to the eastern balcony setback, seconded by Cr Gauci-Maurici.

The original plans were rejected by Council and VCAT. The mover and seconder considered that the plans were not ideal, but had responded to VCAT’s concerns.

The proposal had 169 objectors – some of whom appeared to be in the crowd and surprised by the motion moved in support of the development

Cr Nation spoke against the motion to approve arguing that VCAT dismissed any heritage grounds. He considered the proposal still doesn’t meet VCAT’s concerns regarding the eastern boundary, despite the amendment.

Cr Marshall spoke against the motion with concerns about the eastern interface – again acknowledging the amendment meets some of VCAT’s concerns. Cr Marshall was unhappy with VCAT’s findings on heritage, “they got it wrong”, and the scale and bulk of the proposal. “It will change the streetscape.”

Cr Cusack spoke against the motion: “There is still some substantial argument that could be made at VCAT, albeit we may not succeed.” Cr Cusack also referred to the heritage features surrounding the site.

Crs Gauci-Maurici, Surace, Sipek and Byrne in favour.

Crs Marshall, Nation and Cusack against.

Motion carried – several unhappy murmurings and a few people leaving.

11 Ian Crescent, Airport West

Cr Byrne spoke passionately against the proposal for the construction of 12 dwellings: “It’s not good enough. We shouldn’t have developments like this in our area.” She referred to four areas of non-compliance, lack of safety. “The whole development doesn’t make sense.”

A happy, clapping crowd in the gallery.

Cr Sipek spoke against the proposal. “If you go back a hundred years ago, the development was part of Niddrie homestead… with chicken farms…” He referred to the “original intent of our forefathers to put one home on one block of land.” Something about “goat-country” – and “way too much congestion.”

The Mayor spoke in support of the refusal.  Motion carried unanimously.

9 Buckley St, Moonee Ponds

Cr Marshall spoke in favour of the proposal given the revisions to the plans that have been submitted to Council including pitched roofs.

Cr Cusack spoke to support the amended plans – including softening the design.

Cr Nation: “I concur with my fellow Councillors. I can’t say I like this proposal at all… I would hate to have this property going next to me… it’s completely compliant with ResCode.” Cr Nation says “there’s nothing we can really refuse this on.” “It would be a waste of our time and money to go to VCAT.”

Carried unanimously.   More people leaving.

27 River Avenue, Ascot Vale

Cr Marshall moved an alternative motion to refuse the proposal of four double story dwellings – on the basis of neighbourhood character, limitations of the site, setbacks, site coverage and 40% non-compliance. “When you have that level of non-compliance, you end up saying… take it back and have a think about it.”

Cr Cusack spoke to support Cr Marshall’s motion on the basis of neighbourhood character, and the limitations of Tregunter St. and the consistency of single dwellings in the street. He spoke about the limitations of the street: “We all know of cars that have gone over the edge and have had to be rescued out of people’s yards.”

Cr Nation spoke briefly against the proposal: “This has thirteen areas of non-compliance. The onus shouldn’t be on us to condition a proposal so it is compliant.”

Cr Byrne: “These types of streets were not constructed for these types of developments.”

Carried unanimously. Lots of clapping.

Media and Issues Management Policy Review

Cr Marshall moved the motion with some amendments to tighten up the disclaimers on social media. Seconded by Cr Cusack.

“When you become an elected representative you don’t have the right to say whatever you want anymore.”

Cr Marshall referred to the recent VCAT decision that made it clear that disclaimers don’t enable Councillors to distinguish personal comments from those made in the role of a Councillor. All public comments can be considered to be made in the capacity as a Councillor.

Cr Marshall also added a requirement that comments not mislead and deceive.

Cr Cusack commented on the futility of decisions dividing along political lines.

Carried unanimously.

Revaluation.  Carried.

Buckley St Level Crossing – Update

Cr Nation took the chair in order for Mayor Surace, to move the motion – as pictured below.

Motion

With an additional 7, 8, and 9.

Point 9: “That Council obtain legal advice regarding the process by which Council could be engaged in legal proceedings to achieve a more optimal solution for the community and the cost and likelihood of success of any such application; if the Council was to initiate such proceedings, the likelihood of success and cost of any such proceedings, likely remedies in the event such proceedings were successful and likely damages or other awards against Council in the event the proceedings were not successful.”

Cr Gauci-Maurici spoke about the lack of community consultation by the LXRA.  Some clapping.

Cr Marshall spoke about the lack of an advocacy plan by MVCC. “What is our role?” She argued Council’s role was to produce evidence and data to support our position.  “What have we done? We’ve written letters.”

Cr Marshall argued the GHD report should have been a platform for further work. “Instead we’ve spent in the order of $50K printing corflutes”… “not a single cent on getting traffic advice.”  She argued Council didn’t spend money on corflutes against the East West Link. “Our money went on getting expert advice.”

“Let’s actually do something constructive.”  She argued the legal challenge against the Skyrail “tanked spectacularly”.

“We’re putting time and money into the wrong things.”

Cr Cusack commented that much of the motion “tells the government how to suck eggs”.

“We are going in somewhat undressed.”  “We need to be in a strong position.”

Cr Cusack argued that Council needs to have a Plan B – that involves advocacy.

A Councillor asks whether the legal advice will cost any more than the money already allocated.  Answer: there is enough money already allocated to seek high level advice.

Cr Sipek commented that the contracts have already been awarded. “What’s going to change people’s minds?”  He argued a ground-swell changes people’s minds. “The only way we’re going to get [rail under road] is to get Council to run the show.”  Letters won’t work: “dribble” he says.

Cr Gauci-Maurici moved an amendment to include a point 10 that Council develops an advocacy plan.  A short break. But now governance advice suggests seconder cannot move an amendment.  So amendment cannot be heard.

Cr Nation commented that “officers have been hard done by”.  “It may look like Council doesn’t have a plan, but we are making knee jerk responses to a lack of information.”

He argued the community would like to hear the reasons why the government thinks this is the best proposal.  “They would like to be heard,” Cr Nation said of people in the gallery.  Cr Nation argued that it is not Council’s role to provide detailed advice.

Mayor Surace argued that the LXRA has not provided detailed advice. The Council needs to look for “legal loopholes”.

Crs Gauci-Maurici, Byrne, Nation, Surace for.

Cusack, Marshall, Sipek against.  Motion carried.  Clapping.

No notices of motion.

Cr Gauci-Maurici moved a motion of urgent business regarding Buckley St.

Cr Marshall argued that meeting procedures may not allow a matter that has already been on the agenda, and been debated, be considered as a matter of urgent business.  Cr Marshall sought clarification.

Mayor Surace asked Councillors to vote on whether they support the urgent item.

Cr Marshall raised point of order – that urgent motion should not be considered because the matter has already been considered as part of the agenda.

Meeting has been adjourned while the Mayor seeks advice on Cr Marshall’s point of order. People milling around – half out of chairs and not sure whether to stay.

Meeting resumed.  Are there any items of urgent business?  Cr Gauci-Maurici has said no – it will be a notice of motion next meeting.

Urgent business regarding motions for the MAV Conference.  All passed and meeting closed for confidential items.

Good-night!

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