Council Meeting 24 July 2018

Meeting is opened.

Apologies – Nope.

Confirmation of Minutes – No opposition; minutes confirmed.

Ordinary Meeting of Council held on Tuesday, 10 July 2018.

Declarations of Conflict of Interest – Nope

Presentations – None

Petitions and Joint Letters – No.

Public Question Time – Five Qs

1.From Rosalie from Essendon: Q: why is entrance for Cliff Alison Rsve (spelling?) being flagged as an entrance for a development. A: Mt Road i s major arterial Rd so VicRoads discourages new entry points for convenience of passing traffic, The Use of abutting laneways is used. The forecast number of vehicle levels is considered acceptable.

2. From Darren of Essendon: Q: Does Council believe of large scale developments in ad hoc manner is responsible? A: Planning is always a difficult balance of competing interests. More development is directed towards Activity Centres and must be assessed against scheme.

3. From Darren of Essendon: Q: Are developments above preferred heights in DDOs acceptable? A: It requires a case-by-case assessment and the extent of the encroachment and architectural design and impacts.

4. George of Essendon: Q: how can the impact on solar access be rated at ‘very good’ when another goes from good to poor? A: the development has been assessed against different outcomes.

5. Angelo of Essendon: Q: re a traffic impact report presented to Council from LXRA, can Council make this report public? A: an update from LXRA was provided on July 3, 2018. The meeting was confidential. It was a powerpoint presentation that did not provide the traffic impact assessment itself.

The Mayor reminds people about Public Forums held at Council at 6pm on various Tuesday at which residents can ask Qs.

Reports by Mayor and Councillors – Written and verbal reports presented to the Council by the Mayor and Councillors

Cr Byrne moves. Cr Cuscak seconds. No one speaks. Carried unanimously.

Cr Cusack registers that he has no conflicts.

9.1  16  Brees Road, East Keilor – Construction of three dwellings

Officers have recommended a permit be granted for three double-storey town houses. There are 27 objections to this application.  Apart from a street setback issue which officers have dealt with via conditions, and some morning overshadowing, it is difficult to see what grounds Council might have to refuse this application.

Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 4.59.24 pm

Image: Google Maps

Cr Byrne moves the officer’s recommendation with an amendment to fencing and screening and landscaping along College Pde. Cr Marshall seconds.

“When we stack it up to ResCode it is an extremely compliant application,” says Cr Byrne.

She says the fence is not in character for the area. Conditions have been added to lower the height of the fence.

“Do I love it? No.” But she says it is compliant.

Carried unanimously.

9.2  1032-1036 Mt Alexander Road, Essendon  – Use and development of a multi-storey residential apartment building within a Design and Development Overlay (DDO3) and alteration of access to a road in a Road Zone, Category 1

This is an application for a six storey building with 28 dwellings. Again, the officers recommend a permit be granted, despite the proposal being one floor above the preferred height in the DDO3. It looks pretty big and ugly to me, but good design seems to be off the planning criteria.

Cr Gauci Maurici moves the officer’s recommendation with two amendments – including reducing it by one story. Cr Sharpe seconds.

Cr GM says accepting the proposal with some modification means a better outcome for the neighbours. She says the laneway is used as a walk way, but also a laneway.

She says the height is a storey over the DDO (Residents successfully lowered the height of 177A Mt Rd to comply with the DDO3 at VCAT last year).

Cr Sharpe says she reluctantly supports the proposal. “The height is a big sticking point.” She supports an amendment to lower the proposal to five storeys. She says the use of Council land should have been flagged. She only just remembered it prior to the Council meeting.

She says Mt Road is where Council wants to see higher development, but within the guidelines.

Cr Lawrence says he appreciates the conditions, but he can’t support it due to the size and bulk, shadowing, sharing of the laneway, the noise from visitors, the impact from emptying bins, the lack of visitor car parks, and its size in comparison to other built form (he says it is an elephant compared to a goat). “Its impact is unacceptable.”

Cr Nation speaks in favour. He says the DDO controls outline what is allowed and what is not allowed, and the amendments bring it within the rules. He says a refusal would be futile.

Cr Marshall says “if you make the rules then you can’t be surprised when” developments are built. “I haven’t seen a proposal to try to change the rules.” (Note: the new MSS changes the rules – in the wrong direction IMHO!!)

“[VCAT] will look at the rules that apply to the site,” she says. Cr Marshall also says Council might need to do something that better protects daylight.

Cr GM closes. She agrees that rules to protect daylight do need attention. “If we were to refuse this application, we would have a much worse outcome.”

FOR: all except Sipek and Lawrence

AGAINST: Lawrence, Sipek

9.3 Reviewing Statutory Planning Protocols

This item returns for the third time. Last meeting I made note of the changes to the way in which it is proposed objections be counted: only one objection to be counted from each household; only objections within 500m for residential applications; and objections that are not on planning grounds will not be counted.

Cr Marshall moves the officer’s recommendation. Cr Cusack seconds.

She says she is pleased the matter was delayed to consult about whether consultation meetings should continue. There was 98% support for the consultation meetings to continue.

She says MV is an outlier in that residents have more opportunity to get involved in planning matters at MV. “We should wear it as a badge of honour.”

She says the changes have been made to make processes faster and to deal with the complexities of applications.

She says she wants to “…educate people more about planning” particularly the grounds for objections. “I’m really pleased we are going to do that.”

“Ultimately, the delegation thresholds… there have ben a couple of minor changes …” the ability for councillors to call things in remains. She says the changes “are pragmatic and will not be disadvantageous to residents.”

Cr Cusack concurs.

(And I have to go to a school event … will finish later…).

Back to it.

Cr Byrne says “in Rosehill ward it can be hit and miss” when applicants turn up and no objectors turn up. She also says compromises have been reached at consultations.

Carried unanimously.

9.4 Draft Nature Strip Policy

Officers have asked councillors to approve this policy for consultation. It sets out guidelines for residents who wish to plant alternative plants on the nature strip. The policy seems to set out a reasonable list of permissible planting treatments, and a long list of prohibited treatments (like concrete, tall bushes and fake grass) that all seem quite reasonable.

Cr Lawrence moves. Cr Marshall seconds.

Cr Lawrence says safety is the number one concern – and avoiding elderly residents tripping over plants. “It must be strictly controlled.” People need to seek approval for planter boxes.

Cr Marshall says someone contacted her three years ago about what council allows. “This will help fill that policy vacuum.”

It’s out for consultation.

Carried unanimously.

9.5 Environmental Upgrade Finance Program

Looks good. I’m not quite sure how this will work, but it’s worth taking a closer look.

Cr Marshall moves the officer’s recommendation. Cr Cusack seconds.

“Here is a another fabulous idea,” says Cr Marshall.

“The win on this is so substantial it doesn’t bear thinking,” says Cr Cusack.

“It brings council, property owners, businesses … all together,” says Cr Lawrence.

Carried unanimously.

9.6 Review of Right of Way Policy Abutting Developments

Council has been unable to defend at VCAT its policy of taking land from property owners to widen ROWs to 5.5m (funny that!) – so the proposal is that the policy be amended.

Cr Marshall moves that the motion be deferred. She says further thinking is needed. Cr Cusack seconds.

Carried unanimously.

9.7 Return of the 2018 General Revaluation

Cr Cusack moves the officer’s recommendation. Cr Nation seconds.

Cr Nation says one of the downsides of property prices going up is that rates go up. “People’s rates will go up accordingly.”

Carried unanimously.

9.8 Draft Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy

This policy seems to be tightening up the gift policy following the MVRC quorum debacle. Don’t give councillors gifts. Don’t accept gifts if you are a councillor. Although, of course, it is a bit more complicated than that.

Don’t give gifts to the CEO – they may just be destroyed …

Cr Marshall moves with an amendment (that I can’t hear because her microphone isn’t turned on …) … official capacity is: something about invitations to Mayors and Crs that involve an official role, and Crs are wearing their badges, then gifts declined in the presence of the gift giver don’t need to be disclosed.

Cr Gauci Maurici seconds.

The policy was outdated, says Cr Marshall. The audit committee has seen the draft.

“Community expectations around politicians of all levels are increasing,” she says.

‘This policy sets a high bar.”

The Mayor makes a small wording change.

Cr Gauci Maurici says nominal gifts are often received – hence the non-disclosure of gifts received at functions (but isn’t there a cost threshold for disclosure? I’ll have to double check.)

Cr Byrne reminds people that they can look at the Transparency tab on Council’s website.

Carried unanimously.

9.9 Draft Meeting Procedure Protocol

You may recall some criticisms of the meeting protocols identifying some areas of confusion. The protocols have been reviewed and Council has been asked to adopt the new ones – without any consultation. I haven’t had a chance to read through them – hope they help meetings flow smoothly while also keeping debate fair and transparent.

Cr Marshall moves with some amendments: 6.8. if the questioner is not present, the question will not be read; 6.11 a notice of motion must have been announced 7 days beforehand; 8.6 if the vote is unanimous, the minutes will record it as such; 9.3 Debate or Motion or Amendment; 10.2 A councillor must not be interrupted unless by the Chairperson on a point of order or clarification; 10.6 A councillor may move that … and a few more amendments…

Cr Nation seconds.

Cr Marshall says this is important because without good meeting procedures “we can have anarchy”. She is pleased with the removal of en bloc voting.

The ‘amendment process’ has been simplified. She is pleased with the recision motion process so that councillors don’t wait until a councillor is absent for a recision motion to be brought.

“We have said you can’t abstain.” She says councillors have been elected to form a view. “If you can’t put your hand up to say yes or no to something then you really have to question why you are here.”

Cr Nation says the protocols have been updated from the 2009 version. “The onus now comes on us as councillors to read and learn … in order for the meeting to run smoothly …”

Cr Marshall says she misread … 9.3 Debate of Motion or Amendment; seconder agrees.

Carried unanimously.

9.10 Notices of Motion Quarterly Report

This is a thorough list of all the motions put on the notice paper by councillors and the progress in completing the actions. It’s not really a “Notices of Motion” report and the motions are not called ‘notices of motion’. They are motions for which councillors have given notice that they intend to move… but whatever. Just ‘cos I like grammar.

Cr Nation moves. Cr Byrne seconds. Carried unanimously.


9.11 Report on Assemblies of Councillors – June to July 2018

Not much to say on this.

Cr Nation moves. Cr Lawrence seconds. Carried unanimously.


Confidential Reports – 12.1 Phone Replacement Proposal

Close of Meeting


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