A few preliminary comments on last night’s council meeting.
There was a huge turnout of residents – well over 120 people crowded into the chamber that probably seats only 35 and overflowed into the corridor outside the chamber and down the stairs. And the number of agendas that were printed? Certainly no more than ten! Residents have often asked that some form of overhead displaying motions, amendments etc, be available so that people could follow what is going on. A water cooler/dispenser, which once upon a time was provided, has not made an appearance for years now. We don’t believe that it is too much to ask that given overcrowding and the length of some meetings, plus the heat, that all stops are pulled out to ensure that residents are at least provided with the ability to get a drink or to see (and hear) what is going on.
Item 9.1 – McKinnon Road Amendment
Hyams moved motion to refer to a panel but that the zoning be General Residential Zone 2(GRZ2) . Seconded by Magee.
HYAMS: started by saying that he thought that ‘we all agree’ that the land ‘could be better used’ than the industrial zone that ‘is there at the moment’. The application was for a Mixed Use zone, but ‘my belief is that a Mixed Use zone is not the appropriate zone’. Even though the site ‘is near a shopping strip I don’t agree it is part of the shopping strip’ and is alongside GRZ and also Neighbourhood Residential Zone. Therefore since it’s not part of the shopping strip and the context is residential ‘I don’t think it is appropriate’ for this to be rezoned to MUZ and ‘four storey building and for shops’. Quoted the planning scheme and council policies that ‘encourage the conversion of isolated pockets’ of industrial land to ‘residential’. Said that many objectors asked that the amendment be abandoned and they still have that ‘option’ but thought that the GRZ2 ‘was an option that we can move forward with’. Even if they wanted the zoning to be NRZ they would still have to go through a panel. Continued that he also ‘shared concerns’ with residents ‘about the traffic’ so having a MUZ ‘with shops’ and the increased traffic ‘isn’t quite appropriate’. Spoke about Wynne’s recent proposed changes where across Melbourne the GRZ was going to be 11 metres but ‘that doesn’t apply to Glen Eira’ because this municipality has ‘mandatory 10.5’ and ‘it is my understanding that this will stay’. Explained the difference between GRZ1 and GRZ2, where the latter has ‘greater setbacks to the rear’ and if it’s GRZ then ‘there is no need for a Design and Development Overlay’. Said he chaired the planning conference and it was long and ’emotional’. ‘It was unfortunate that the police needed to be there’ and ‘contrary to rumours’ put out by some ‘irresponsible people’ council didn’t pay the police – they ‘came of their own volition’ because there had been some ‘very unsavoury behaviour towards the applicant’ which was the reason for their presence. Said that the Glen Eira Resident’s Association were present at the planning conference and they made some good points and for those people interested in Item 9.2, they ‘might wonder why they weren’t accorded the same help’. Explained the process – ie going to panel, back to council etc. ‘So this isn’t the final step’ and objectors still get opportunity to put their view.
MAGEE: ‘There’s an awful, awful long way to go’ and the panel will consider the ‘merits’ of everyone’s submission. Council can then accept, amend or reject the panel’s decision. Said that ‘clearly a mixed use zone is not something I would be favouring’. With a GRZ zoning this is then ‘limited to 3 storeys’. Councillors would probably say that ideally they would ‘love to see Californian bungalows’ on the site but ‘that’s not ever going to happen’. Opposite is Neighbourhood Residential so this site becomes ‘what you would call the transition’. Said councillors had ‘heard a lot of concern from residents’. They probably get 1 or 2 such applications a year which ‘generates a lot of debate and that debate is welcome’. But this has ‘to be taken into consideration for what is the big picture for Glen Eira’. Thought that the MUZ would ‘be a step backwards’ but the GRZ he thought ‘is appropriate’. Repeated that there’s ‘still a long way’ to go and this is only the first step in the process by ‘sending it to that independent panel’.
ATHANASOPOULOS: started by saying that the thing he has been ‘most passionate about’ is planning. He is also ‘proud’ of councillors for taking the approach ‘which is a long term strategy’ on planning. But ‘without that strategy’ he finds it ‘difficult to go through’ these sorts of applications. Said it’s difficult because ‘I am not guided by an actual strategy that I have endorsed’. Thought that ‘it is up to us’ to abandon the amendment. Said he isn’t anti-development – he owns a business in Carnegie and ‘I understand the benefits of development’. Agreed that the ‘city is going to have to’ change over the years. What council does need is the ‘ability to go to our people’ and asking them ‘how do you see this’ for an area and then ‘for us to come back here’ and for officers ‘to put together a strategy for every particular area’. ‘This will take time’ but in the ‘meantime’ he isn’t ‘comfortable’ in saying ‘I think this should go here’. So until they ‘go to our community’, speak with them and ‘actually develop that strategy’ and then ‘make the decision’ on applications. ‘Then I would be very comfortable’. Didn’t think that council should be going to a panel and that they should be ‘focusing all our effort’ on ‘what we want for our whole municipality’.
ESAKOFF: agreed with comments but wanted to emphasise that the ‘site is due to change’ but wasn’t sure if MUZ was right. Felt that a GRZ was more appropriate since it is in a neighbourhood centre but ‘at the edge’ so there is that ‘transition down. Perfect’. So the ‘GRZ absolutely fits’. Also is a ‘fair way away’ from the rest of the shops.
TAYLOR: asked that if the amendment was abandoned would it be coming back to council at any stage?
DELAHUNTY: said it ‘would be open to the applicant’ to resubmit another application.
TAYLOR: said it was a ‘difficult decision’ because she had got a lot of ‘feedback’ from residents and thought along with other councillors that GRZ was most appropriate because ‘we want to keep that village feel as much as possible’. It won’t stay industrial and ‘we have to make sure that we utilise the space appropriately’.
DELAHUNTY: said she has a ‘lot of sympathy’ for Athanasopolous’ views since he makes ‘a very strong argument for the need for a strategic plan’ and that she ‘wishes we had done our strategic plan’ long ago. Strategic plan ‘would help a lot’ with this. The community has also made their views known on the ‘item’. The community ‘around this site is obviously vocal but also very loving’ of their area and ‘that helps a lot’ with the decision. Stated that she is ‘in two minds’ because going to a panel on something she mightn’t fully agree with, but she ‘wants to know more’ and realises that ‘I am placing costs on council’ and the developer. This mightn’t be necessary if they ‘intend to actually not listen to the panel’ and ‘do some strategic work’. On the other hand ‘this applicant shouldn’t be a victim’ because council hasn’t done the strategic work and he ‘has put in an application’ which ‘deserves to be considered on its merits’ – ‘regardless of whether council has been organised enough’. Strategic work is important and typifies the way ‘this council is working’ and it’s going to be a ‘great outcome in the end’. Council does need ‘to consider things outside the process’ at the moment. Said that ‘this is an uncomfortable decision’ but she is in favour of sending it to a panel because ‘it buys us some more time‘. Not a good reason admittedly to send to a panel but overall ‘this is industrial land’ and ‘due for a change’. So ‘on balance’ she will vote for a panel.
HYAMS: moved the motion not because he wants to ‘buy more time’ but because getting this zoned to GRZ means to go to the panel. Otherwise it will stay industrial and he didn’t think ‘this does anyone any good’. Agreed with Delahunty about residents having a say and that’s ‘part of what we do’ in the structure planning process. Was also ‘sympathetic’ to Athanasopoulos’ views but having a strategy ‘is going to take a fair while’ and it’s not ‘fair’ or ‘right’ to tell applicants who ‘come along in the meantime’ that they are going to ‘have to wait’ until council does its strategic planning. Said that council ‘needs to apply the policies we have at the moment’ and ‘work on the strategies in the meantime’. Explained the process again – ie panel, minister, then back to council.
VOTE PUT: MOTION PASSED. ONLY ATHANASOPOLOUS VOTED AGAINST.
For all the talk about not being ‘populist’ but doing what is ‘right’ that we’ve been hearing for years and years from the likes of Hyams, Magee, and Lipshutz in particular, this resolution provides clear proof to residents that if they organise, if they are vocal, and if they put pressure on council, then they will achieve some change of heart.
One needs to question why, when this amendment was first considered in September 2016, the likes of Hyams and Magee and all other sitting councillors of the previous council, saw absolutely nothing wrong with an MUZ zoning? The officer’s report hasn’t changed its recommendation – those councillors re-elected have changed their view! Where were they 6 months ago? Why put residents through this aggravation and angst?
As a reminder, here is part of what Hyams said at the September, 2016 Council meeting . Please compare with what he has stated above! It speaks volumes about all notions of consistency and ‘integrity’! And of course, ‘populism’ has nothing to do with anything when over 100 objections are submitted!
Hyams moved motion to seek authorisation from the Minister. Seconded by Magee.
HYAMS: stated this was the ‘very first stage’ of an amendment process. Said ‘should we allow this to happen. Should we have consultation on this?’ Claimed that it ‘should be a mixed use zone rather than the industrial it is now’ because this will allow ‘more appropriate uses such as shops’ . There would be 4 storeys with ‘quite significant setbacks’.
LIPSHUTZ: said they will hear what the community has to say but there is ‘large approval here’ and they are sending a message to the community that ‘we do support this’ and for the future. This ‘is a message to the community – this is where we’re going’.
MOTION PUT – PASSED UNANIMOUSLY