Another two instances reveal what a joke Council Minutes are turning into. The (infamous) Lipshutz Right of Reply fails to include his little ‘addendum’ that was not in the printed agenda version. This in itself calls into question council’s Local Law since it specifies that all rights of reply have to be published in the agenda. Lipshutz’s concluding paragraph (relating the experience of a relative under Nazism) was not in the agenda. This was an ‘add on’ and has now been left out of the draft minutes.

The far more important omission from the minutes relates to a public question where a resident asked why previous minutes did not include the Delahunty phrase ‘be provided’. By excluding this phrase, the administration is not ORDERED to produce the vital traffic management studies on surrounding streets to the Caulfield Village Development. The fact that time and again councillors sit in silence and accept the distortion of history without a whimper should give residents an insight into the machinations that occur in this council and the integrity of those who sit in chambers.

Below are a selection of these public questions and their non-answers.

Question – On December 17th 2013 Cr Delahunty stated that Council had undertaken some ‘recent’ traffic studies on Queen’s Avenue, Eskdale Road and the surrounds of Sir John Monash Drive. I ask:
(1) Why have these studies not been placed in the public domain so that residents may be privy to all relevant information that could help inform their submissions to the MRC Development Plan?
(2) Why have the minutes of this December 17th meeting not included Delahunty’s words that the studies be ‘provided’ – presumably to councillors and potentially the public?
(3) Have councillors been ‘provided’ with hard copies of these studies? If so, when?
(4) Have councillors been ‘provided’ with verbal reports of these studies? If so, when?

Response –

1. Generally ‘traffic studies’ are undertaken by Council on an ongoing basis. Detailed traffic studies have been (and are continuing to be) undertaken by Caulfield Village’s traffic engineers to determine the extent and appropriateness of the required traffic management works as part of Amendment C60. These studies have been placed in the public domain. In turn, Council’s traffic engineers are reviewing the traffic studies to ensure that the appropriate analysis is undertaken.
2. At the Council Meeting on 4 February 2014 Council unanimously confirmed the Minutes of the 17 December 2013 Council Meeting without any changes to the Minutes.
3. Councillors were provided with written advice in January 2014 that provided information about the Queens Avenue / Normanby Road intersection, the Queens Avenue / Sir John Monash Drive roundabout, Eskdale Road and pedestrian conditions in Queens Avenue.
4. I refer you to 3 above.”

COMMENT

It should be carefully noted that ‘reviewing’ the MRC’s traffic studies is not what Delahunty requested. Secondly ‘written advice’ is not the same as providing councillors with the hard copy studies themselves. It is more than likely that it is a short memo crafted by the admin. We further believe that no councillor has as yet clapped eyes on the traffic studies.

Question – In 2011 Council rejected C60 Panel’s view that there shouldn’t be preferred maximum height limits near Monash University. On 10 October 2013 Council voted not to oppose the changes sought by the developer through Ministerial Amendment C111, to the Glen Eira Planning Scheme and the Caulfield Mixed Use Incorporated Plan, which removed height limits from that portion of C60.

What were Council’s reasons for supporting the removal of height limits from a portion of the precinct, and what were Council’s reasons for deciding to exempt balconies when assessing fit with the specified building envelope, which makes it inconsistent with the rest of the Planning Scheme, and why were the details of the changes being sought not included in the Agenda or Minutes? Was Council misled about the extent of the changes that it voted on and ultimately supported?

Response –

Council officers identified what was a DTPLI’s error with respect to the Smith Street height limits in the approved documentation for Amendment C111. The height limit was not proposed to be altered by Council under Amendment C111. The DTPLI has acknowledged its error and is currently in the process of reinstating the height limit within the Smith Street precinct to reflect the maximum height limit of 120m AHD (typically 20 storeys).

With respect to balcony projections, it is common for minor building intrusions to be disregarded in setback distances prescribed. The State Government’s Rescode specifically states that verandahs, porches, pergolas and eaves are allowable encroachments. It is noted that if Council is not ultimately happy with the extent of any balcony intrusions, it can either condition a development plan to alter or remove the intrusions or refuse the development plan outright.

COMMENT

Another example of the incompetence of both Council and the Department as we have previously commented. More importantly, the reference to ResCode is quite laughable and designed to camouflage the truth since ResCode does not apply to buildings of this proposed height. Add to this that to the best of our knowledge there is nothing in the MRC’s plans which indicate the EXTENT OF INTRUSION in the ‘sacrosanct’ set backs, nor is this spelt out in the officer’s report, and we have before us in this response the biggest con job of all time.

From the in camera items we have this notice:

Crs Lipshutz/Magee

Note that the proceedings brought by Council have been settled by the payment to Council of $2,000,000.00 and that this part of the resolution be incorporated in the public Minutes of this Meeting.

The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.

COMMENT

This really does not tell us a thing since:

1. Council was still with-holding close to $2M from the original contract
2. It does not state who is paying for lawyers
3. Nor does it tell us if any penalties were applied
4. Nor does it tell us if the counter claim by Hansen and Yuncken is still going ahead

PS: And to completely shatter the myth of a ‘united’ councillor group here is the Lobo gem taken from the minutes –

Cr Lobo: “I foreshadow a right of reply at the next Council Meeting.
Cr Lipshutz is yet to apologise to me for asking me in writing if my previous employers in Middle East and I were involved in terrorism and then dismissing the written words as innocuous, a word he has used again in tonight’s
meeting.
When Councillor Lipshutz apologies to me in writing then he might be in a position to lecture on appropriate behaviour to the friends of Caulfield.

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