Residents need to consider carefully the following from last night’s council meeting. In our view it encapsulates fully the hypocrisy, inconsistency, and decision making that has already been determined, despite the ongoing planning scheme review.
Item 9.1 was an application for a 7 storey and 24 dwellings in Centre Road, Bentleigh. Officers recommended 6 storeys and 22 dwellings. True to form, councillors decided that they would lop off another storey and a handful of units so that the motion was for 5 storeys and 19 dwellings. This was moved by Hyams and seconded by Lipshutz.
HYAMS: started off by saying that objectors did not attend the planning conference. Said that there is a ‘quandary’ here because ‘we have our beliefs’ about what is appropriate for Centre Road and ‘on the other hand’ there is the recent VCAT decision for 8 storeys up the road. If it wasn’t for this decision then ‘5 storeys would be pretty much a lay down misere’. So the questions is ‘do we change our opinion’ because of the VCAT decision and make a further decision based on this ‘which we think is wrong’ and ‘hope’ that VCAT ‘gets it right this time’. His motion is because he thinks that ‘five storeys is appropriate’ in Centre Road. ‘Currently’, the ‘tallest building in Centre Road is 5 storeys’. Didn’t think ‘that we should compound the mistakes made by VCAT’ which they ‘would be doing’ if a permit was granted for 7 storeys. Spoke about setbacks and car stackers and that ‘they are accepted by the government’. Thought that ‘5 storeys is reasonable’ since it ‘backs onto 4 storeys’.
LIPSHUTZ: Centre Road has got ‘3 and 4 storeys’ and even though this might look like a 3 storey from the ‘street, it is nevertheless a 7 storey building’. “I think that’s wrong’. ‘I think the appropriate level is 5 storeys’. Didn’t think that they should say that because VCAT ‘will approve it’ that they should change their minds. Thought that ‘we have to stand up for our principles and residents’ since ‘we know what we want’. ‘This council has policies and I think we have to maintain our position’ and if ‘vcat overrules us, well so be it’. ‘We have principles and we have to stand by them’ and that he thinks that ‘5 storeys is the appropriate level’.
LOBO: give the developer ‘an inch’ and he will ‘take large square metres’ to build ‘inappropriate’ buildings. Said that Mavho ‘has a uniformity of 4 storeys’ and giving this 5, then with VCAT, there is the possibility of ‘giving 9 or 10’ storeys. Residents ‘have said’ that Bentleigh is ‘completely destroyed’. Said that since the Minister ‘has asked us to review’ the planning scheme he thinks that the commercial zones shouldn’t change until the review is done. Said that ‘I have never accepted anything over 3 storeys’ and apart from the General Residential Zone, the ‘new zones don’t say that’. After ‘the destruction of Bent St and Mavho Street’, Loranne and Campbell street are now the ‘targets’ and developers have also ‘encroached East Bentleigh where there is no public transport’. This has ‘created chaos as far as traffic is concerned’. Gave examples of residents who could not get out of their driveways and ambulances could not get in. Said that councillors ‘have to look after the residents’ and that they are ‘elected not for any political party’. ‘If we are not doing this, then we had better stay home’.
PILLING: said that Hyams motion is for a main road, in a commercial zone and not residential. Thought that the ‘five storeys’ is ‘appropriate’.
HYAMS: said that Lobo implied that there weren’t 4 storey developments before the zones came in, but there were, especially in Carnegie and Murrumbeena. So he ‘hoped that people don’t draw that parallel because it wouldn’t be true’. Said that the ‘problem’ is that ‘we have policies in place’ to protect Centre Road, but VCAT ‘has suddenly started interpreting it as if we don’t’. thus ‘our policies haven’t changed but VCAT’s interpretation has changed’. Didn’t think that ‘under planning law’ council can put a ‘hold on developments’ waiting for the review. Repeated that he thought that 5 storeys ‘in commercial zones is appropriate’.
MOTION PUT AND PASSED. LOBO VOTED AGAINST
The hypocrisy and inconsistency of both Hyams and Lipshutz is simply mind-boggling. Truth, consistency, and above all, integrity, goes out the window when it comes to getting their motions up. Here are some quotes that these two individuals have said in the not too distant past. Please compare their above comments with what follows –
- ‘it’s not as if you will get a six storey building in a row of shops’. (https://gleneira.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/hyams-can-we-believe-him/).
- HYAMS: Said that a problem was that if you set height limits then ‘people will build up to that height and you can’t stop them’ but if you don’t have height limits and let each application be ‘judged on its merits’ then you could get ‘better outcomes’. (6/2/2013 – ie on application for Glen Huntly Road – 6 storeys and 45 dwellings which got a permit from council.) Then post zones we get this diametrically opposed statement – Hyams – ‘The new zones are limiting development’ because of the height limits and that ‘anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about’ or ‘is deliberately seeking to mislead you’.(25/9/2014)
- LIPSHUTZ: He also needs to be ‘practical’ in that he could ‘easily reject’ this but it will go to VCAT and they will say that ‘I haven’t turned my mind to it properly’ since he has to sit here in a ‘quasi judicial’ position and ‘working on planning laws’. These laws ‘allow this building to happen’. (on 7 storeys for Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick – 26/11/2014)
- LIPSHUTZ: said he was ‘in two minds’ on this application. First he thought ‘no’ because ‘it goes against our policy’ but after looking at the site he thinks that ‘we have policy but policy is not law’….’I don’t think we want to be hard bound by policy’. All policy does is ‘gives us a framework’ and ‘you have to look at each site individually’ (on double storey application for rear in Bolinda St., Bentleigh East – 15/11/2013)
- LIPSHUTZ – Glen Eira is the first council to ‘adopt these plans’ and that’s because they have ‘vision’ and that’s because years ago Akehurst and ‘his team’ saw that ‘we neeed to have distinct areas to protect our suburbs’. Because these plans already exist they were ‘able to translate very quickly’ into the new zones ‘and that’s a credit to our officers’….The zones are ‘protecting our neighbourhood, we are protecting our municipality and that’s important’. (30/12/2014)
There are literally countless other statements we could have included in the above. Some simple questions will suffice –
- How much longer will these councillors continue the sham of blaming VCAT for their inaction and lack of sound strategic planning?
- How many more times will Lipshutz get up and try to warn off objectors from going to VCAT?
- How many more times will half-truths be portrayed as gospel in the chamber?
- And how much longer will residents put up with such self-serving incompetence, especially from these two councillors?