Tuesday 13 June

Highlights of tonight’s meeting were:

  • Council voted to take legal action if the Planning Minister intervenes to avoid  Buckley St Lvl Crossing removal going to a planning panel hearing
  • Cr Sharpe changed her mind on a planning proposal (Russell St) resulting in Council only making a decision after three separate attempts at motions
  • Two adjournments while Councillors worked out who would move and second planning motions (something that is normally decided at briefings beforehand)
  • Interim mandatory height controls will be introduced for 12 months for Moonee Ponds Activity Centre

A few peeps here tonight – some Adventurers (for a badge?), a number of residents, and Cr Byrne 36 weeks pregnant (all the very best!!).

Cr Nation is Acting Mayor.

Welcome, including the acknowledgement of the Traditional Custodians of this land and the recital of the Councillor Creed.

Present: Cr Sipek, Cr Sharpe, Cr Marshall, Cr Nation, Cr Byrne, Cr Gauci-Maurici, Cr Lawrence

Apologies: Bryan Lancaster, Cr Cusack is running late (and he’s just arrived), Mayor Surace is on leave, Cr Marshall has requested leave 3-14 July

Confirmation of Minutes

Ordinary Meeting of Council held on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 and the Special Meeting of Council held on Tuesday, 6 June 2017.

Sipek/Lawrence – carried unanimously

Declarations of Conflict of Interest

Cr Lawrence has a COI for item 9.7 – personal association

Cr Gauci-Maurici has a COI for item 9.5 – indirect interest due to a close association

Cr Marshal has elected not to participate in item 9.4.

Presentations nope

Petitions and Joint Letters none

Public Question Time

Qs from Henry Berry for Valley Carers – when will Councillors receive a report for the Notice of Motion passed on 26 July 2016? Will the report address the actions to be taken to date – including affordable housing issues for people with disabilities? Why has the Council not given the petitioners any further response, other than receipt of the petition?

Answer = work has been commissioned by Council, and is due on 26 June, looking at affordable housing for people with a disability in MVCC, and looking at numbers, state and federal political context, benchmarking MVCC and opportunities for Council.

(Henry has been advocating for people with disabilities in Moonee Valley tirelessly.  He is waiting for answers a year after a notice of motion).

Reports by Mayor and Councillors – not tonight … in a fortnight’s time

(9.1) 36 Shaw Street, Niddrie (Lot 72 on LP 010094) – Construction of three dwellings

Cr Nation asks “Do I have a motion?” No one speaks.

Cr Nation asks again reminding Crs of their statutory obligations with respect to planning.  No one speaks.

He asks a third time. Cr Cusack says he will move the officers’ motion.  Cr Sharpe seconds.

Cr Cusack says there is a high level of compliance.  He says he wasn’t present for discussions that were had at briefing, as he was running late. Cr Sharpe doesn’t speak.

Cr Byrne rises to say that she doesn’t agree with the officers’ recommendation. She points to three areas of non-compliance (Cr Byrne asks to be seated, at 36 weeks – bless). “The developer clearly wants to maximise profit by putting three on there.” “There are going to be cars everywhere.” “I don’t know how it will go at VCAT, but I don’t like it.”

Cr Marshall: “Being a Councillor is not easy – it involves looking at evidence and information, and weighing up that evidence.” “As the responsible authority we have an obligation to do that fairly … we have to look at the planning rules that apply to the site.” “It provides what it is meat to provide under the rules.” “If you don’t like the rules, you change them.”

No other Councillors wish to speak. Cr Cusack closes.


For: Cr Gauci-Maurici, Cr Cusack, Cr Nation , Cr Sharpe, Cr Marshall

Against: Crs Lawrence, Byrne, Sipek

(9.2) 12 Michael Court, Niddrie (Lot 6 LP220559G) – Construction of three dwellings

Cr Sipek moves an alternative motion – to refuse the application – on grounds of neighbourhood character, urban design, setbacks, overshadowing. Cr Bryne seconds.

Cr Sipek says he was “virtually on the fence”. But says he won’t be voting for the motion on the grounds he has read.

Cr Byrne talks about the hill on the block that is “pretty much on the face of a cliff”. The bins “will cause chaos”. “The houses in the court are beautiful big dwellings.” She says the dwellings will impact the view: “there’s a few things that Council can take to VCAT to fine-tune a bit more”.

Cr Sharpe foreshadows an alternative if this motion fails.  Cr Sipek closes.


For: Crs Lawrence, Byrne, Marshall, Sipek, Nation

Against: Crs Gauci-Maurici, Cusack, Sharpe

(9.3) 27 Russell Street, Essendon (Lots 1 & 2 PS7523) – Construction of a multi-level building, use of the land for the purpose of a food and drink premises and dwellings, reduction in the car parking requirements,   waiver   of   the   loading   and   unloading   bay requirements and alteration of access to a Road Zone, Category

Cr Sipek moves the motion.

Cr Nation asks for a seconder – twice and again reminds Crs of the planning obligations. Or maybe he has asked three times. “We have a statutory obligation to hear this …”

Cr Byrne finally seconds the motion.

Cr Sipek: “It’s on a very prominent site here.” “I think something is going to happen here and it will happen here.” “It’s the only thing that could be developed here.”

Cr Byrne does not wish to speak.

Cr Lawrence rises to speak against the proposal. He says the block is smaller than a nearby site with a similar proposal. He says there are only 64 parking spaces, whereas 80 are needed. “We all appreciate the Buckley St traffic issues.” “Nine storeys is over and above what is acceptable.” “It’s a stark transition from a modern building to a church.”

Cr Gauci-Maurici speaks against the motion. “We want to encourage development” in the area. She has concerns about parking for visitors and customers.  The Structure Plan suggests a limit of 6 storeys in the area. “The development has been flagged as an issue by PTV.”

Cr Sipek: “I’m a bit perplexed by it all.  Be careful what you wish for.” “This is the sort of development Council encourages” near train stations. “If we keep knocking back these sorts of developments” on major roads, “they are going to come to the suburbs.” He says VicRoads haven’t objected. “It’s going to generate activity in the area.” “The whole of Moonee Valley is lacking in parking.”

Motion is lost.

For: Crs Byrne, Nation, Sipek

Against: Crs Lawrence, Gauci-Maurici, Cusack, Marshall, Sharpe

Cr Nation asks for another motion for item 9.3 – even if not foreshadowed, under meeting protocols, does not have to be foreshadowed.

Cr Nation asks twice … possibly even three times.

There is discussion on the floor (“Have a crack at it”- says one Councillor.)

There is an adjournment for five minutes.

Back now – Cr Gauci-Maurici is moving a motion against the proposal; Cr Lawrence seconds.

Cr Gauci-Maurici says a development on this site should respond to the buildings around it, and meet the 6 storey guidelines.  Cr Lawrence says the impact on St Johns is of concern, as well as the traffic impact.

Cr Sharpe (who voted against the proposal a moment ago) says the development is over the recommended height, but compared to the 10 storeys approved for the Ukrainian Hall site. “I could go along with the flow and vote against it… it’s easy to.” “We’ve got a Structure plan in place.” “If we knock this back, this type of development will go in our residential streets.”

She is frustrated that the Crs are debating this at this point. Cr Sharpe says Council has been fighting the inability to have mandatory heights (“I won’t swear”, she says.) “I can’t refuse something like this.  It’s a corner site.” (She appears to have changed her mind.)

Cr Sipek says ten storeys was approved at VCAT. “I am flabbergasted that now we are going to be sitting at VCAT hoping this doesn’t go beyond ten storeys.” “I was asking for eight, and now I think we are going to get a minimum of ten.”

Cr Cusak talks about Mt Alexander Road – “sauce for the goose” and “sauce for the gander” (I need to look up what that means…). “the whole purpose of looking at Russell St and the notion of the Structure Plan, which is sort of sitting in the sky”, is about how this engages with the neighbourhood.

Motion is lost on the casting vote of the Chair. (Cr Sharpe has changed her vote to support the proposal.)

For: Crs Lawrence, Gauci-Maurici, Cusack, Marshall

Against: Crs Byrne, Nation, Sipek, Sharpe

And we take another break…  my hot-spot is not going to last the distance tonight I fear!

Back again! Cr Sipek moves the officer’s recommendation, with a slight alteration – to increase the retail space to at least 250m.

An officer points out that 1(c) also needs to be amended.

No Crs wish to speak?  Hang on –  Cr Cusack rises to say it is too high and there is no coherent relationship with the church and Buckley St.

Cr Sipek says the building may operate as a “sound barrier”.

Carried on casting vote of chair.

For: Crs Sipek, Byrne, Nation, Sharpe

Against: Crs Cusack, Lawrence, Gauci-Maurici, Marshall

The epic of Russell St is finally over.

(9.4) Buckley Street Level Crossing Removal – Next Steps

Cr Lawrence rises to move the officer’s recommendation with a small amendment – to empower Council Officers to “immediately pursue legal recourse if considered appropriate” in the event the Planning Minister intervenes to remove the need to a panel through the advisory committee under s 20(4) (I think).

Cr Lawrence speaks to this explaining the amendment. Cr Gauci-Maurici has seconded the motion although she says she won’t speak for long. “The advocacy plan is well worth having a read through” (I agree). “What we still need to keep in the back of our mind is the … limited amount of information available” on which people have been asked to give the feedback.

Cr Sharpe asks for a point of clarification to ask whether Cr Lawrence mentioned the amendment when he moved the motion.

The Acting CEO clarifies that Cr Lawrence moved the amendment.

Cr Sharpe asks whether what is on the screen is what Cr Lawrence moved.  Turns out it’s not.  The screen was missing a second point. Cr Sharpe says she didn’t hear Cr Lawrence say the second part earlier.

Cr Sipek says that he stood up at a previous meeting to ask for $100K for legal advice. “We are now chasing.” “I don’t want to go down the same boat as the EWL” where we might lose and lose money. (Except ‘we’ won.) “What we’ve got here with legal proceedings is an open cheque book.”

Cr Byrne says she agrees with Cr Sipek.  “It concerns me that we’ve got at least $120K” and she is concerned about the open-ended nature of the commitment to legal proceedings.  She is not convinced with the advocacy plan and won’t be supporting it.

Cr Cusack – he is not supporting the motion “as unpopular as it is going to be, I think it is time to let go”. “Are we really going to ask the State Government to shell-out big, big bucks?”  “I don’t think there is the political will to do that.”

“We should be prosecuting the other parts of Appendix A.” “We’ve got no interest from other politicians.” Cr Cusack says this motion will “stall the inevitable”.  “We will lose the opportunity.” He also says the LXRA has said that Puckle and Park Streets can be addressed with the road under rail at Buckley.

No one else speaks. Cr Lawrence closes by saying “this is not a plan for the next two years”, but has to be a long-term plan.  “It will divide the community, the schools, the students … and will have an impact on Rose St traders.” He says “governments shouldn’t be doing this” and should represent people.

“Councillors this is a big decision we are making here tonight.  This is not one we are going to be able to make once this is built.”  Future generations cannot speak to this tonight, he says (loudly). “People in this government have decided that manipulation is better than consultation.” (He is almost yelling now).

“Plan ahead.”  “The future is the finish line – which is straight out of a film.” “Not good enough.”

One person claps.

Motion carried.  More people clap.

For: Crs Lawrence, Gauci-Maurici, Nation, Sharpe

Against: Crs Cusack, Byrne, Sipek

(9.5) Moonee Ponds Activity Centre (MPAC) Pilot Project

Cr Marshall moves; Cr Cusack seconds.

Cr Marshall moves the motion. “What this project is about is pressing the pause button and introducing mandatory height controls” while Council does the work with the Department. The pause “will enable us to really think about how we want the centre to look.” “We have the opportunity to get the planning for the centre right.”

Cr Cusack says that the problem MVCC has always had is “that we have no leverage”. He says “we need a breather”. “This is the critical part for the future.” “Some of this has been prompted by guilt … but irrespective of what the motivation is”, he says it is a good proposal.

Cr Marshall closes by talking about the infrastructure, the ability to collect contributions, the capacity to make meaningful changes, the opportunities for lane-ways, and make the centre an attractive place for people to visit.

Carried unanimously.

(Someone is passing around lollies… but they have stopped at the Adventurers and haven’t quite made it to me!)

(9.6) Municipal Parking Strategy Update

Cr Marshall moves; Cr Cusack seconds.

Cr Marshall moves the motion with some amendments to 1, 2d, 2e, 4f … one of which refers to parking in narrow streets

Cr Marshall explains that the Parking Strategy of several years ago to try to manage the conflict between supply and demand for parking in MVCC. This motion is about addressing some of the issues that have arisen.

Narrow streets present “a vexed issue” with respect to parking on natures-trips.  Officers are working street by street.

Ascot Vale Leisure Centre – the proposal is trying to manage demand at the AVLC – with a 12 month trial period.

Restrictions in local streets – the report has some survey results  … Cr Marshall has lost her train of thought … (there are lots of distractions going on… a few Crs have side-conversations) Cr Marshall recommences – particular streets will be looked at, except for Montgomery (and another street).

Other issues: removal of expiration date on temporary vouchers; appeals process for people who are not entitled to permits.

Cr Cusack talks about “how do you share something that is really impossible” and that parking strategies should really be a work in progress.

Carried unanimously.

(9.7) 2017 Heritage Study – Stage 2

Cr Marshall moves; Cr Cusack seconds.

Cr Marshall says the Heritage Gap study identified many heritage areas that needed planning work. She says Stage 2 does the detailed work to assess whether properties and areas require Heritage protection.

But, she says, development is moving quickly and many places needing protection are at risk of being demolished if planning in MV isn’t done more quickly.

Cr Marshall says she is delighted the heritage work is being fast-tracked to get the work done as quickly as possible.

Cr Cusack says to “go and look in the books” if you want just Edwardian or Victorian.  He says heritage is about education, being proud of where we live and what are we passing on to generations”.

“We are not Rowville.  We are not Phillip Island.  We are here.” (Glad that is clarified!) “Do not muck up this place.”

Cr Marshall talks about current issues where homes that are not covered by heritage overlays can be “knocked down tomorrow”. “This is about how your street looks in 10-20 years.” She strongly recommends that people read the detailed records that become available during a heritage study.

Carried unanimously.

There is some delay while a search party looks for Cr Lawrence.

(9.8) Airservices   Australia   Noise   and   Flight   Monitoring   System (NFPMS) – Proposed Licence to Use Part of   Prospect Drive Reserve, 67 Prospect Drive Keilor East

Cr Sipek moves officers’ recommendation.  “All we are doing here is putting a big microphone in the park.”  “It won’t be emitting radiation.” (Phew!)

Cr Byrne says the microphone will be able to collect data on air traffic. (Some comments re helicopters in Ascot Vale).

Carried unanimously.

(9.9) Mobile Food Van – Policy

Cr Sharpe moves a motion to defer the motion. Seconded by Cr Gauci-Maurici.

Carried unanimously.

(10.1) Notice Of Motion Report: Exploring possible funding for Avondale Heights Men’s Shed

Cr Byrne reads her motion – and then speaks about the long discussions that have gone on regarding a Men’s Shed (that could also involve women).  There will be a survey; and then MVCC will be ready if grants become available.

Cr Cusack apologies for standing again to speak. “We’re not just talking about somewhere to park old blokes.” “It’s about connectivity.” “It is about how do we work with partners.”  Cr Cusack says putting money into people’s health “can save millions down the track”.

Cr Lawrence and Cr Gauci-Maurici also spoke. Cr Lawrence says it is a male thing that “we like to belong and we like a purpose”, although then qualifies that this may also apply to women.

Carried unanimously.

(10.2) Notice Of Motion Report – Developments in Moonee Ponds

Cr Marshall moves a motion asking for a report on infrastructure needs including transport and services (children’s services, older people, libraries, and what Council’s plan is to provide these services.

‘It’s no great surprise, the level of growth occurring in Moonee Ponds.” “What this is about is being able to say to the people of Moonee Ponds that we have a plan.” The various pieces of work “need to be pulled together”. ”

At the moment, people don’t have that sense as to when things will be happening in Moonee Ponds.”  “The additional population, where will they be going to school?” “It’s about us as a Council being able to turn around to our community and say that we have turned our minds to it.”

Cr Sipek suggests we move straight to the vote.

Cr Cusack speaks. “There is a serious problem about not understanding what growth in the inner suburbs looks like.” And now he’s talking about sewers. It’s getting late. 

Cr Marshall closes by mentioning how people feel about increased pressure on services; and that Council needs an evidence based approach to advocacy.

Carried unanimously.

Urgent Business Yes – Cr Sharpe has something.

Vote to consider urgent business carried unanimously.

Cr Sharpe moves a motion about the Strathnaver Reserve and pavilion. It’s not visible so I am not sure of the details.

There are concerns about a grant, and the use of the grant to upgrade the existing pitch rather than installing a new pitch. One tenant wants year round use and MVCC policy is that facilities are used by multiple clubs.  The cricket club has had a long-standing use.

Cr Sipek says MVCC will be looking at allocations and grounds. It is a good opportunity, he says, to let people know that facilities are multi-use. “A good exercise.”

Cr Marshall says it is a very pragmatic approach to the issue.  “It is certainly Council policy that facilities are multi-use.” She says the Council could help to mediate issues between the soccer and cricket clubs.

Carried unanimously (though not sure exactly what the motion was).

Confidential Reports: Modular Design, Prefabrication and Site Installation of the new Cross Keys Reserve Pavilion

I never did get those lollies.

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