Magee was an apology. Delahunty took the chair.

Hyams moved motion to refuse application on the grounds that it is an ‘overdevelopment’ and doesn’t ‘respect’ the ‘existing character’ – latter repeated countless times. Seconded by Lobo.

HYAMS: called the officer recommendation ‘reasonable’ and that they’ve ‘done a professional job of it’. He just happens to ‘disagree’ with them. Said that the officers believe that since this property abuts a commercial zone that they don’t have to ‘adhere’ to ResCode quite so strictly. He believes that it is ‘still a residential zone and should be treated as such’. Also, this is a single block and you ‘wouldn’t have four storeys’ on a single block ‘unless it was pretty large’. Thought that the recommended conditions (ie car parking, setbacks) ‘are good’ but not enough. Street and side setbacks, ‘don’t comply with ResCode’ and neither does permeability and site coverage. So this ‘convinces’ him that ‘the only reasonable thing to do is refuse it’. The application fails to ‘tick the box’ and ‘too many things about this that don’t comply’. Said that parking issues were mentioned at the planning conference because ‘the street is getting very busy’ and that ‘builders in the area’ are not ‘complying’ with the law. So ‘in the next few weeks’ there will be ‘investigating’ and ‘we are cracking down’ on enforcement especially about parking. He will ‘pass on’ the results when they come back.

LOBO: said he has consistently opposed developments because they have ‘domino effects on the people’. Mavho is an ‘avocado street’ – ie ‘the builder now has butter, jam, and avocado on his toast’. The street ‘is gone’ and has experienced ‘tears and sleepless nights’ by residents. Itemised all the developments in Mavho in the recent past and that another two properties have now been sold together. Said that ‘oversupply’ was a concern and that ‘many dwellings will be occupied by pigeons’ and other birds. Said that to ‘put dwellings’ in Mavho which is a ‘lovely street’ and which backs Loranne is ‘catastrophic’. In about 100 metres of street there are now ‘almost 130’ new dwellings which ‘in any language’ would suggest that ‘this is not a place to live’. There was an application for a massage parlour with the first application and now with all these new apartments ‘there will be the need for 2 or 3 massage parlours’.

LIPSHUTZ: Lobo mentioned 2 ‘things that resonate with me’ – agreed that the street ‘has gone’. Other point was about more developments in the street. Claimed it was ‘unfortunate’ because when the first application came in ‘I voted against it’ but it lost and went to VCAT and VCAT gave the developer what he wanted. Said he could ‘stand here and be popular’ and say all the things that people ‘want to hear’ but this wouldn’t be ‘doing anybody any favours’. He has for 6 years been talking about VCAT Watch and again VCAT in today’s agenda ‘overturned council’s decision’. SAid that ‘none of us’ want this kind of development ‘in our streets’ and that council ‘has been advocating very strongly against’ such developments. Reality is that ‘the government wants these types of developments’ and VCAT ‘is approving them’. Said if the application is refused it ‘will go to VCAT’ and he ‘guarantees’ that VCAT ‘will approve’ and therefore ‘some of the things that council has put in’ will be gone. That’s what happened with one of the applications in VCAT Watch. Council tried to make ‘things better for residents’ and VCAT ‘said ‘no’ we can’t allow that to happen’. Said he ‘would rather have something there than nothing’. This wouldn’t be very ‘popular’ with people because they want rejection of application but he has to do this ‘properly and unemotionally’ and therefore he has to ‘support the’ recommendations. Claimed that officers have tried to make a ‘bad situation’ better. Wouldn’t like this development in his street but ‘because’ the ‘street is gone’ ‘VCAT is going to allow it’.

ESAKOFF: this application ‘is so far removed from what is a normal requirement’ that she can’t support it. ‘On principle’ she can’t support the recommendation just because it abuts commercial zones. Said that 78% site coverage ‘when it ought to be 60 is too far over’. Can be ‘lenient’ but this is too much. It’s also ‘not meeting’ permeability and setbacks. Thought that council needs ‘to maintain the limits we have on things’ like permeability and site coverage. Also wouldn’t ‘support reduced parking’.

PILLING: admitted that when there are ‘two zones there is always a tension’. The planning department ‘has done the best to alleviate’ this tension. Listening to the arguments that the application is ‘too far over’ the limits so they’ve got nothing to lost, he will ‘probably’ vote to refuse.

SOUNNESS: said he is ‘conflicted’ since he knows that council tried to improve its planning by ‘taking what was offered’ by the minister via the new zones. Said this was a bit like Ford – you can have any colour but all that’s available is black. Said that in ‘negotiations’ about the zones ‘we were given a limited range of tools’. Since this abuts a commercial zone ‘quite large buildings can go there’ and this mightn’t be ‘comfortable’ for everyone. The recommendations ‘propose’ what ‘may happen in the commercial zones’. Said that in 15 years time people won’t be saying that ‘this is grossly’ out of place. His ‘concern’ was that in ’20 to 25 years time’ there won’t be ‘any street trees’. Said he wants a ‘condition’ about appropriate landscaping area. in 20 years time ‘we will have a different streetscape’ but still needs trees. Recognises that this is a ‘development’ area and he is ‘uncomfortable’ now but in ’20 years time I do not think I will be uncomfortable’. Said he is against refusal and if the motion doesn’t get up he will introduce a new motion to increase front setbacks to enhance landscaping.

OKOTEL: supported refusal and disagreed with Lipshutz on VCAT’s record. Whilst it’s likely to end up at VCAT it isn’t ‘an inevitability that it will’. Hoped that the ‘applicant would put in more appropriate plans’. Even if it goes to VCAT she doesn’t think it’s a ‘certainty’ that he will get what he wants. Said there could be amended plans, negotiations, and then mediated agreement. Said that council has to apply ‘policy and planning law’ and therefore agreed with Lipshutz that because ‘we sit as a quasi tribunal’ emotion can’t be part of decision making. Hyam’s motion is ‘based on policy and law’ and the refusal isn’t ‘based on flimsy reasons, not emotional reasons’.

DELAHUNTY: thought all arguments were well put and that there is a ‘reasonableness to refusal’ because it’s an ‘unusual application’. With permeability and landscaping ‘issues’ she would lean towards refusal. Said that she is concerned about arguments that say that ‘bringing apartments into a street means that the neighbourhood is gone’. Said that people want to live where ‘some of us live’ and ‘we know how gorgeous’ these places are. It doesn’t detract from ‘how beautiful it is’ by ‘having more people there’. Talking about the ‘neighbourhood going is emotive’ and ‘potentially unfair to people moving in’. Supports the idea that ‘there should be more development there’ even though the application might ‘lack’ some important things. Whatever ‘ends up there’ will be ‘good’ for the area and for the people coming in.

HYAMS: didn’t think that ‘the street is gone’ – ‘people still live there’. ‘we should live and die by ResCode in our policies and not by populism’ and ‘not by what we think VCAT may or may not do’. Gave example of VCAT refusing Ames Avenue when council approved it which was a ‘surprise’. Thought that VCAT would ‘impose further conditions’ on ‘ones we refuse’ rather than on ‘ones we approve’. Regardless of what VCAT might do, councillors have to do ‘what we think is right’.

MOTION PUT and CARRIED. VOTING AGAINST REFUSAL – LIPSHUTZ AND SOUNNESS

COMMENT

  • Lipshutz has no problem in presenting half truths when it suits his nonsense arguments. For example: the first application (March 2012) for a major development in Mavho Street was refused unanimously by all councillors. It was not a case of Lipshutz voting against and other councillors voting for the development – as could be interpreted from his comments. Secondly, the development was for 3 storeys and ten units only – a far cry from the 4 storey largesse that council has now granted to large slabs of Mavho Street – thanks to its zones. PS; also worth pointing out that for this first application only 10 properties were notified and there were 47 objections!
  • The old bogey of VCAT is trotted out again and again – opposed to that nasty old concept of ‘populism’. Well, the facts of the matter are incontrovertible – councillors (apart from the Caulfield Village) vote with one eye on their re-election chances. Refusals by councillors are either recommended by officers, or when the number of objections become too large to be ignored. Countless phone calls and emails from residents also exert the necessary pressure. The message to all residents is clear – object, object and keep objecting.
  • We also find it quite laughable that Hyams’ grounds for refusal focus on ‘existing character’. The ‘existing character’ of Mavho Street is now 3 and 4 storey developments – thanks again to council’s new zones. With no preferred character statement for housing diversity developers have been handed a carte blanche to do what they like with council’s blessings.
  • Hyams’ claim that you ‘wouldn’t have’ four storeys on a single block is also quite laughable. Here are two examples of single blocks that have received permits from council (one admittedly for 3 storeys, but that is big enough in itself). The examples – 1100 Dandenong Road (4 storeys and 22 dwellings. The land is roughly 570 square metres); 1170 Dandenong Road (3 storeys and 23 dwellings)
  • Delahunty’s and Sounness’ arguments deserve close attention by residents. We invite comments as you see fit.
  • Not one councillor had the courage to state the obvious – a pathetic and sub-standard officer’s report that is anything but ‘professional’ and ‘reasonable’. And of course, not one councillor had the courage to question the efficacy and wisdom of the new zones.
  • Please note that nearly every single ‘local centre’ in Glen Eira is now zoned commercial and directly abuts residential zones – and quite often Neighbourhood Residential Zones. Another instance of shocking planning by Glen Eira. Will we therefore see a repeat performance of this circus every single time an application comes in from these areas?
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