Objections to rezoning – Golden Plains Shire council meeting briefs

May 30, 2024 BY

Rezone rebuke: Residents are continuing to object to the planned redevelopment of land north of the Bannockburn Recreation Precinct. Photo: FILE

THE pushback from community against the proposed fifty-one-lot rezoning at Bannockburn’s Dardel Drive progressed somewhat during Golden Plains Shire council’s regular meeting on Tuesday with councillors noting the results of resident engagement.

Following ongoing action against the move to subdivide the 3.5 hectares of land at the Bannockburn Recreation Precinct, councillors received 39 submissions through Have Your Say and saw 19 attendees at a drop-in session around the project.

The desire for recreational and open space, lack of infrastructure around potential social housing, and the insufficient traffic growth capabilities and lot sizes were key points made by objectors.

Cr Helena Kirby said the recent community engagement is proof councillors are listening to objectors.

“We do understand their concerns,” she said. “At the moment, this is allowing petitioners their chance to have a say.

“We’re just in a catch 22 because we’re awaiting further information from the State Government.”

Several councillors noted the lack of proper community engagement in the municipality’s initial rezoning decision in 2021, including Cr Les Rowe, who said they “put the cart before the horse.”

“This is really a poor reflection on this council,” he said. “We should have had a decent consultation on this subject with the immediate residents.”

The motion passed unanimously with the exception of councillors Clayton Whitfield and mayor Brett Cunningham, with the former absent and the latter declaring an ongoing conflict of interest.

Special rates out for approval
A funding model which would see Golden Plains Shire recover costs for works or services rendered by having benefiting property owners footing part of the bill is now out for exhibition.

The municipality’s proposed introduction of the Special Rates and Charges scheme, featured in the Local Government Act 1989, is now available for feedback until 5pm on Wednesday 26 June.

“It’s a fantastic policy to have in theory,” said Cr Owen Sharkey. “In practice, it’s going to be the biggest challenge.

“It’s more difficult for us as a per-urban council than a metro council when we put a policy together and we hit a small township and expect them to contribute towards kerbing.”

Cr Gavin Gamble highlighted the potential to fast-track projects but was one of several councillors to voice concerns for residents who would struggle to make payments.

The municipality aims to progress forward with the scheme if the proposal receives 60 per cent approval rate from the community, which is higher than the minimum level of required support at over 50 per cent.

The motion passed unanimously.

Finance report read
Councillors noted the results of the municipality’s financial performance from the nine months leading into the end of March.

The operating result listed an $8.9 million unfavourable variance with an operating surplus of $4.2 million in contrast to the budgeted surplus of $13.1 million.

Factors such as depreciation of assets, rising material costs, flood recovery efforts, and the municipality’s inability to sell off enough lots at Lomandra Drive were noted as financial issues.

Cr Gamble said Golden Plains Shire isn’t the only local government facing underwhelming finances.

“This is a sector-wide burden on local government, right across Australia too,” he said.

“The repot does recognise substantial achievements made for the community over this period [like] Kopkes Road reconstruction and Cape Clear-Rokewood Road.

“The deficits are not bad within themselves. They’re only bad when there’s no capacity to turn them around.”

Council plan tracked

Progress made on the Council Plan 2021-2025 between January and late March was reviewed.

With many of the items progressed by an estimated 60 per cent, Cr Kirby noted key updates such as plans for a fire station at Dereel as well as the implementation of new leadership programs and an online directory.

Five of the 14 listed actions adherent to the plan were delayed in their progression and Cr Gamble noted many related to waste management.

Shared vision refresh

A new wave of residents have offered their vision for the region according to a new consultation period.

Councillors noted the community engagement findings on the Community Vision 2040 Refresh project.

More than 400 residents were surveyed for the update, more than 85 per cent of whom originally didn’t contribute to the 2019/2020 document.

Cr Gamble said the results reflected a community with shifting perspectives and needs in the face of ongoing local and global change.

“There’s been significant changes over the ensuing three to four years,” he said.

“The COVID pandemic of course caused major social upshift and changes in valuations. There’s also been a housing crisis… [and] further events related to climate breakdowns we’ve experienced.”

Push for pump track received
Councillors commended the efforts of Haddon’s young people after receiving a petition from them asking for pump tracks and bike paths for the town.

The petition included 250 signatures and Cr Kirby said the project was a wonderful initiative from the region’s youth.

“We talk about COVID and getting kids outside,” she said. “This is another way to get them outside and off their devices.

“If we can help them in their process of growing up and being outdoor children… this is a good way to go.”

Cr Sharkey was against the proposal and said it wasn’t an ideal method for the community to get their point across.

“I appreciate and commend the work done by the youth here,” he said. “[But] this is not my personal preferred way that advocacy should happen.

“We have a community plan at Haddon which is probably four years out of date. That’s a great spot to let the community come put their voice there and let it build from that into our priority projects.”

Echoing Cr Sharkey’s sentiments, Cr Gamble noted financial limitations as well as the strategic placement of bike tracks in the shire’s central towns and highlighted the rail trail to Smythesdale from Haddon allowed cycling activities which Cr Kirby rebuked.

“We’re not going to let our kids ride seven kilometres to another town,” she said.

Safety improvements sought
A second petition, this time asking for improvements to be made at Scarsdale’s Browns-Scarsdale Road and Vicki Court intersection was met with a similar response from councillors.

Receiving 32 signatures, the document calls for obscuring vegetation to be pared back to the fence line with new guard posts erected.

With the issue already brought to the municipality through other channels, an assessment on the issue has already been undertaken by an arborist and is expected to be resolved within the next few months.

Cr Sharkey reiterated his argument from the previous document.

“Petitions come from angst,” he said. “I’m disappointed petitions are coming to us at such a low level. This is already lodged in the CRM process.

“A petition like this should not come to us until it’s been through that process. We’ve got to put some mechanisms there with petitions to communicate with the public better.”

Cr Kirby said the petitioner felt immediate action was required.

“[She] actually came up and spoke to us at the Smythesdale listening post,” she said.

“She’d already taken it to council. She felt she wasn’t listened to, and that’s why she has put the petition in.”