Sunday, September 30, 2012

more pcs for belgrave library

Cr Samantha Dunn checking out the PCs
at the Belgrave Library.

I’ve played a key role in the development of the Yarra Ranges Library Strategy and Action plan as one of the members of the steering committee. A comprehensive community consultation was undertaken and council received more than 2000 submissions, there is no doubting we love our libraries.

As part of delivering on the Library Strategy and Action plan in Belgrave, a key action included improving access to IT services. It’s terrific to see that Belgrave library will get 2 additional PCs to complement those already there.

The Belgrave Library plays a key role in ensuring that all members of the community can be connected to the information age. More PCs at Belgrave will mean library users can more easily meet their information needs in a welcoming, inclusive and stimulating environment.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

thanking you, the no maccas crew

My thanks to everyone who committed time to fight the McDonalds Tecoma VCAT appeal. The dust has settled and now we wait for a decision from the tribunal which should come around mid October.

I thought it was time to publicly recognise those, and there are many, who went above and beyond the call of duty. There were countless hours spent around a variety of kitchen tables and loungerooms over tea and biscuits. The appeal drew together many different people to fight for the common cause and I can assure you the community put in the absolute best effort they could to fight this appeal.

So my hearty thanks particularly go to:

Anita – part of the core campaign group, who let us meet at her house for weeks on end, became a storage point for material and did an incredibly comprehensive submission on built form

Anne, Barbara, Nicole, Steve – part of the core campaign group, who spent many hours on their presentations and coordinating public meetings and other events, assisting the community with questions about how to fill out their VCAT objections at help desks, tirelessly pursued signatures on the pledge and also let us meet at their respective houses

Claire – part of the core campaign group, who staffed the community help desk to assist with questions about VCAT objections, who spent countless hours pouring over traffic data and reports, coordinating community surveys, modelling traffic data and giving a cracker of a presentation to the tribunal, was one of our cross examiners, summed up in right of replies and concluded the community’s involvement in the appeal by speaking to the draft conditions

Community surveyors – who gave up their time to count cars, buses, bicycles, pedestrians on some chilly afternoons and evenings in Tecoma

Community submitters – who listened to advice, engaged fully in the process and gave some amazing presentations to the tribunal

David – part of the core campaign group, who was keen to pull and pick apart every expert report, sourced our expert on lighting, was a communications distributor, presented TVAG’s submission and participated in cross examination and right of reply

James – the webmaster

Joy – for some prolific badge making

Jude – who got the media involved when it was needed

Lynne & Richard – who sourced out the community’s hired gun, Town Planner Tim

Miranda – who helped with the info stalls about the VCAT statement of grounds

Karl – part of the core campaign group, who poured over expert reports, dug up countless Maccas cases, was an expert in signage and communication distribution, did an extensive presentation and had some magnificent cross examination moments

Kate – part of the core campaign group, who staffed our help desk to help community members with VCAT objections and came to the fore at the pointy end to provide valuable advice about cross examination, right of reply and draft conditions and provide daily support our cross examiners up at the big desk

Krissy – part of the core campaign group, the videomaker of Our Tecoma

Town Planner Tim – although not strictly part of the community because he was our hired gun, his representation was strong and forceful and he put forward a comprehensive case on our behalf

Wilf – part of the core campaign group, who was active in so many ways, a dab hand with signage, developed a corker of a presentation for the preschool and sadly passed away suddenly 3 days out from the start of the hearing

There’s many more who aren’t listed, I thank you too, it’s been an enormous effort and highlights how the scales are skewed in terms of resources when it comes to applicants with deep pockets and community members with no resources but their local knowledge, skill, talent, passion and commitment to draw upon, and we did have plenty of that!

The email traffic has been extensive, the meeting hours long, let’s hope it’s all worth it and we get the right result for Tecoma.

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samantha in the press - environment

Cash targets pests
Mail Newspapers
by Casey Neill
26 September 2012

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Monday, September 24, 2012

keep higher ed in lilydale, forum to find out more

Some people have suggested this isn't a Dandenong Ranges or Lyster Ward issue. As recently as today I went to Knox City and ended up speaking to a young person working part time there, who is a student of Swinburne Lilydale campus and lives in Selby.

The closure of Swinburne Lilydale and the loss of higher education and TAFE there has very far reaching implications for students right across Yarra Ranges.

If you can, come to this public forum to discuss the future of the Yarra Valley Education Precinct. 

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

awesome again

Stax the Didgeman, read out the observations
of the first Europeans to see the platypus, which
proved to be very curious.
It was terrific to, once again, be part of the Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group's Awesome Ornithorhynkids day at Belgrave Lake Park (aka as Playtpus Day).

Funded through a Yarra Ranges Council community festivals grant, it is a great celebration of community, children and our famous local resident, the platypus. With plenty of activites for children including screen printing, face painting, story telling, arts & crafts and an interactive & live wildlife display, it is a wonderful way for children to spend the afternoon and learn more about our local environment.

Rudy the One Man Band
kept everyone entertained
with an array of specially
written platypus songs.
The day is also supported by the Selby CFA who provided the sausage sizzle and we were all entertained by Rudy the One Man Band and Stax who'd written some songs especially for the platypus, one of the highlights being the Ornithorhynchus Pokey (a hiliarious version of the Hokey Pokey).

Cr Samantha Dunn spots a couple of platypus!
The day included a platypus walk, led by James, who is one of the coordinators of this year's community platypus count. It's great to learn more about this fascinating animal and we all felt priviliged to know that we have them in our own local waterway, the Monbulk Creek.

Two platypus were spotted at the most recent count, with this information being fed back to the Australian Platypus Conservancy, who are the key body involved with conserving the species.

Belgrave Lake Park is a great venue for
Awesome Ornithorhynkids.
James talked about the importance of habitat and healthy waterways to encourage platypus and the platypus walk included an inspection of the most recent weed works and plantings undertaken by the Shire of Yarra Ranges and the local Friends of Monbulk Creek, Belgrave Lake. It's looking great.

Well done to organisers, a great day out for all ages.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

discovering birdsland

Cr Samantha Dunn launches the Birdsland Masterplan,
be sure to have your say about this much loved
bushland reserve.
What a great day to launch the Birdsland Masterplan at the Birdsland Discovery Day. The sun shone and Birdsland was full of people enjoying the great outdoors.

The masterplan has been a long time in the making, but necessary in guiding the future of this well loved and well used reserve.

There were some terrific activities throughout the day,
of course there was a planting along the riparian area
of the Monbulk Creek.
The masterplan provides a clear direction and strategy for the development and upgrade of facilities within the Birdsland Reserve and the Monbulk Creek Retarding Basin. It ensures that current user groups can continue to use the reserve and make use of enhanced recreational opportunities, whilst reflecting upon the environmental and historical significance of the reserve.

The masterplan is grouped into six key themes, Ecology, Circulation, Agistment, Education, History and Fuel Zone Management.

My thanks to all the volunteers who helped make Birdsland
Discovery Day a great community event. I am always
in awe of your passion for our environment.
If you'd like a copy of the masterplan click here. You can also view a hard copy at our community links in Upwey and Monbulk.

I encourage you to have a look and be sure to feed back your comments by 9 November. 

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

samantha in the press - vlga

Women urged to raise their voice at council ballots
The Age
by Jason Dowling
19 September 2012

Women encouraged to run in local elections
ABC News
19 September 2012

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footpath link getting closer

At the site of the new footpath - both
residents and tourists will be able to
navigate between Belgrave and
Kallista much more easily once the
path is constructed.
It's terrific to learn that after much planning that a tender is out for the construction of a footpath link to join the existing footpath in Belgrave on Monbulk Rd with the path that goes through Sherbrooke Forest to Kallista.  It's a project that I've been championing to ensure these two townships have a pedestrian link.

It's a challenging project, as they often are in the Lyster Ward, the topography, environmental concerns and pedestrian safety all come in to play.

It made for some challenging detailed designing to come up with a design that firstly makes sure pedestrians can stay on the same side of Monbulk Rd, that there's minimal environmental disturbance and it works across a range of challenging slopes.

I look forward to seeing it completed as part of the footpath plan to further link our townships.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

emergency rally - tafe4all

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Monday, September 17, 2012

belgrave traders agm, new committee elected

Me, with the new Belgrave Trader's Association
President, Marjo Robinson. Congratulations Marjo!
I was delighted to be able to preside over the Belgrave Trader's Association AGM election of committee members. It was wonderful to join with this group of people who are keen to promote Belgrave to locals and visitors to the area.

The night included presentations on a variety of events and happenings in Belgrave, it's a vibrant town with a new energy and it's great to be a part of it.

We heard from CJ from Limerence who's the spokesperson for End of the Line Festival, a celebration of arts and community. Next up was Vicki from the Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group, who is a powerhouse of knowledge and enthusiam for all things happening on the local environment front. Justine and Jamie gave an update on Reverberation, a hills culture festival which aims to promote local talent and businesses, followed by Tiffany Bishop, who talked about her collaborative youth art initiative, the tiffany bishop collective. We also heard from Bronwyn from the Shire who talked about the current investigations underway for a site for the Belgrave Community Hub.

There's so much going on and with new businesses in the area, there's a new vibrancy in the town.

I'm pleased to report the committee for 2012/13 are:
President - Marjo Robinson - Through the Looking Glass Second Hand Books
Vice President - Brent Dakis - Limerence
Secretary - George Harmon - George Harmon & Associates Quantity Surveyors
Treasurer - Jacqui Day - Business Lynx
General Members:
Paul Dakis - The Confectory
Damien McIntyre - tiffany bishop collective
Yolanda Rayner - Wicked Lady
Charmaine Jeffrey - Bendigo Bank Belgrave
Arthur Kyriakis - Belgrave Community Pharmacy

Congratulations to you all and thanks for dedicating your time to Belgrave.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

angry about swinburne lilydale closure?

Were you disappointed at the closure of Swinburne University in Lilydale?

Do you want to see further educational opportunities in Yarra Ranges?

Yarra Ranges needs your help.

Yarra Ranges Council and other industry working parties are working to find a proactive outcome for the former Swinburne Lilydale site.

We are committed to working with the community to advocate for our region. We do not want young people or anyone else looking for further education to be disadvantaged because of lack of access.

Come along to the Community Forum to discuss the future of a Yarra Valley Education Precinct.

Have your say and find out more.

The forum will discuss the needs and future of tertiary education in the region.

It is a part of an ongoing campaign to ensure further education opportunities for the outer east. Interested community members are invited to attend.

When: 5:30pm, Wednesday 26 September
Where: Mt Lilydale Mercy College Centennial Hall, 120 Anderson St, Lilydale

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

bridging to belgrave

Cr Samantha Dunn inspects the new bridge over
Monbulk Creek.
Earlier this month work was completed to see a new bridge installed across Monbulk Creek near Park Drive and Belgrave Lake Park.

The original bridge was extensively damaged in the 2011 floods but was temporarily reinstated so pedestrians could still access the track which leads from Selby to Belgrave.

It's terrific to see the new bridge, it provides an important pedestrian link via the Park Drive neighbourhood up to Belgrave and it's good to have a permanent replacement installed.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

samantha in the press - planning

Mcanswer in October
Mail Newspapers
by Casey Neill
12 September 2012

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monbulk pool gets a try out

Just a little update on the Monbulk Pool redevelopment.

The main pool was re-poured as part of the $7.2million project and is currently being tested to make sure the new shell doesn't leak - so far so good. Water from this pool will be recycled into the balance tanks and the new leisure pool as they are completed to minimise water usage.

Work on the new gymnasium is going ahead in leaps and bounds since the structural steelwork is in place, it's just wonderful to see this project come to fruition.

The redeveloped facility will include:Refurbished 25 metre pool;New learn to swim and leisure pool, including beach entry;New male and female change room facilities;New pool store and family change room;New plant room;New foyer administration and kiosk;New outdoor deck area andNew gym and
Refurbishment of the childcare areas

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

mcdonalds appeal - just when you thought it was over

From the community meeting held in May 2011.
Just when you thought the hearing was done and dusted there's still more to comment on.

McDonalds suggested a set of draft conditions to deal with issues around the managment of the carriageway easements, car parking, signage and traffic management both on their land and off their land. They were also asked by the tribunal to provide drawings to show how the 'feathering' and 'corkscrewing' of the ramp up to the disabled car park would work and integrate with the grade of the driveway.

These draft conditions and drawings ended up being delivered to all parties on the 6 September. After studying the submitted information the community will highlight to tribunal members that there is still no plan or drawing showing proposed speed control devices, directions signage, car parking information and restrictions including any signs designating car parking areas for particular premises between identified times and there is still no provision for pedestrian safety and management.

In relation to the 'sketch' submitted it was found that there's a lack of scale to enable proper assessment of the changes in gradients on the site, and clearly specified relative levels have weren't provided on the sketch. There's no cross section provided at the critical interface between the parking bay and the driveway to properly demonstrate and assess “feathering” or “corkscrewing”.

There is no explanation as to how mobility aids, unloading devices or ramps can be used safely on an uneven, tilted “feathered” or “corkscrewed” surface of the disabled car park and there is no explanation as to why this car parking space is now referred to as an “Accessible Parking Bay”, so we'll be asking where's the location of the required Disabled Carpark.
A lot of the draft conditions are predicated on the consent of other land owners and there's been no evidence to suggest that this will be forthcoming, yet another example of this flawed application on a constrained site.
As part of what is hoped to be the final submission we're asking the tribunal to draw a line underneath the list of material provided by the applicant and base its decision on the merits of what's been presented up to 6 September.
I'll be sure to keep you posted with any updates as they come.

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awesome ornithorhynkids day - it'll be great!

Look forward to seeing you there.

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Saturday, September 08, 2012

belgrave hub, investigations begin

Me, consulting in Belgrave for the Belgrave Town
Centre Study, some of these findings will help inform
the current investigations into a community hub for
It's great to be able to let you know that investigations are underway into the feasibility of a community hub for Belgrave.

The Yarra Ranges Community Policy and associated strategies identified the need for a community centre in the area. Community Hubs are a great way to meet community expectations about accessibility, quality facilities, sustainability and integrated service delivery.

The reports identified what myself and residents already know, that the existing community facilities in Belgrave are of a poor standard, that is of course putting aside the Belgrave Library which is a wonderful facility.

Further work is required to identify the location and services required so Council had employed architects H20 to investigate these options.

We'll be talking to the community and service providers in coming months as the project progresses.

I'm looking forward to discussions with our community to find out what they see as our needs and solutions.

We’ve had some great feedback from other areas of the Yarra Ranges where community hubs have been constructed and I look forward to seeing the results of the Feasibility Study as a stepping stone to getting a hub in Belgrave.

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Friday, September 07, 2012

burke, considering a visit?

I thought it timely on National Threatened Species Day to report back on Yarra Ranges' invitation to Minister Tony Burke.

Back in June council resolved to invite the Federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, to visit Yarra Ranges to visit threatened habitat of the Leadbeaters Possum, Victoria's faunal emblem (see blog). It was terrific to learn that last week Murrundindi Council also resolved to invite Minister Burke down for a visit.

As a follow up to our invitation Yarra Ranges Council has been advised that the Compliance and Enforcement Branch of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (yes that's a big portfolio) is currently reviewing the documents produced during the MyEnvironment v VicForests court case (see blog) to determine whether logging operations have been, and are being, conducted in accordance with the Central Highlands Regional Forest Agreement.

I've also been advised that the federal Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will be initiating engagement with both the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and VicForests to discuss the forest management issues relating to Leadbeaters Possum.

The Minister advises that our invitation will be considered "in the light of his present and future commitments". I do hope the Minister does have the opportunity to visit, he himself can see the devastation being caused and the significant loss of habitat and biodiversity.

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

samantha in the press - elections

Will you vote Yarra Ranges Councillors in again?
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
5 September 2012

Yes it's that time again, council elections will be upon us in October.

It has been a privilege to serve the community of the Lyster Ward and I ask for your vote in the 2012 elections.
If you'd like to help me get re-elected and continue to be a strong voice for the people of Lyster you can donate to my campaign here.
I look forward to working hard to make Lyster an even better place to live and offer sensible, balanced decision making and stand for transparent, hard working, cooperative grass roots democracy.
Authorised by S Dunn, 377 Lt Bourke St, Melbourne 3000

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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

samantha in the press

Answer call of nature in Belgrave Heights
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
4 September 2012

Is Yarra Ranges Council too green?
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
4 September 2012

Mail Newspapers
4 September 2012

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mcdonalds appeal - day 8

The early starters for the VCAT hearing, David from TVAG,
Ros - one of our community submitters who came
along to watch in the gallery, Karl - who's been doing
some great cross examination, myself - Lyster Ward
Councillor, Claire - traffic guru, community presenter
and cross examiner and Kate - wily assistant to our
community cross examiners. Some of the team who've
played a part in this enormous effort to stop McDonalds
developing the site in Tecoma.
A glorious spring day greeted those headed for a long day in VCAT for the last day of the McDonalds appeal.

Tribunal Member and hearing chair Geoff Rundell opened proceedings by asking that cross examination be confined to any new matters that arise from evidence and not the wider road network issues.

As part of preliminary matters Claire Ferres-Miles raised the issue of a plan of the finished levels across the site and whether this was now available (the lack of this has been a constant issue throughout the hearing). Whilst Tim Radisich (Town Planner Tim) raised the issue of details as to whether the car park will be fully reconstructed. Chris Townshend SC replied that there’s always design detail that won’t be answered as part of tribunal hearings.

After some clarifying questions from Ms Mimi Marcus (representing council) Mr Tim Radisich commenced cross examination of Mr Tim DeYoung of GTA Consultants, the second traffic expert presented by McDonalds.

Mr Radisich commenced by raising the issue of the most convenient car parking to the site, to which Mr DeYoung confirmed that the parking at 1527 Burwood Hwy (the location of Mr TMan pizza and various businesses) and Burwood Hwy itself might be the most convenient. Mr DeYoung went on to say that it was an acceptable outcome that people use the carparks at 1527 Burwood Hwy, he also said the McDonalds site was self sufficient when it came to carparking.

Mr Radisich went on to ask Mr DeYoung how he would feel if people were parking in his carparking spaces, Mr DeYoung replied with he can’t possibly give evidence on what the tenants of 1527 would be thinking and then went on to say you may be frustrated, you may be happy.

As part of cross examination Mr De Young revealed he did not turn his mind to the swept path of front loading garbage trucks. Mr Radisich went on to raise issues around regrading of the car parks to which Mr Townshend SC interjected saying that Mr Radisich had asked 3 questions in one.

In reframing his questions Mr Radisich asked questions around the revised drive through plan, where Mr DeYoung confirmed that the stack lane had been reduced to 4 vehicles and that on occasion the access to carparking may be impeded but wouldn’t have substantial impact on the operation of the area. Mr DeYoung went on to say he hadn’t made an assessment of the queue and time delays and that this was not a critical issue. He also confirmed that the queue of the drive through may encroach on the carriageway easement (this is the common driveway) for 2 or 3 minutes but he hadn’t assessed this.

Mr David Hall (one of the owners of 1527 Burwood Hwy) commenced his cross examination saying it was not desirable that McDonalds customers park in other premises car parks to which Mr DeYoung replied that it appears as a public car park but could be restricted or fenced. Mr Hall also raised the issue of maintenance given the bulk of use would come from McDonalds customers and McDonalds delivery/garbage collection vehicles. Mr DeYoung said it was not unreasonable for a permit condition that protects easements.

Next up was community member, Karl Williams. Mr Williams queried that relevance of stores used for data in Mr DeYoung’s evidence as they did not seem to be selected on the basis of their similarity to Tecoma. Mr Williams began a line of questioning and used data based on assumptions from McDonalds annual reports. Mr Townshend SC objected, saying Mr Williams can’t use assumptions to comment on GTA survey results. Member Rundell reminded that Mr Williams had put similar propositions to Mr Hunt (yesterday). Mr Williams decided to take a different tack.

Mr Williams went on to query the difference between the original GTA report (submitted as part of the application to council) and the one submitted as evidence. He also queried the need for tandem Customer Order Devices, to which Mr DeYoung said it was about convenience to customers. At this point Mr Townshend SC interjected again.

Mr Williams went on to query the diagram submitted as part of evidence showing two through lanes on Burwood Highway (from Glenfern right through to Sandells Rd) and signalisation of McNicol Rd and Burwood Highway. Mr DeYoung said they were only there for consideration of others (VicRoads and Council) and were not required as part of this application but may be an option.

At 11am Ms Claire Ferres-Miles commenced her cross examination. Mr DeYoung confirmed that he had visited the site once during peak hour but reviewed the video traffic survey material. He agreed that it was difficult for fixed cameras to see around the bend beyond Rutherford Rd to assess the queue length. Mr DeYoung confirmed to Ms Ferres-Miles that he believed the queues to be made up of two queues, one queuing back from the traffic signals at Sandells Rd, the other the queue made from the merge of two lanes down to one. Mr Townshend SC interjected asking what time. Mr DeYoung agreed that drivers would see it as one queue of traffic.

Mr DeYoung also said he was a little bit surprised that the same amount of cars turn left into Sophia Grove as they do into Sandells Rd and raised the proposition of rat runs through residential streets. He also agreed that diversion into residential streets has amenity impacts, but this was difficult to predict.

As part of her cross examination Ms Ferres-Miles asked Mr DeYoung to clarify in what way Tecoma was similar to Sydney CBD (Mr DeYoung had said yesterday that there were similarities), he stated that the similarity was the grades that are acceptable in Sydney and that no other characteristics were the same.
The only similarity we can see between Sydney CBD
and Tecoma is this splendid replica of the harbour
Mr DeYoung restated that maintenance of the accessway was typically handled with permit conditions as well as ensuring public access through the construction period.

When asked about the timing of the signals at Sandells Rd Mr DeYoung said he’d observed 80-95second timing and had called VicRoads who advised a 90-95 second timing, Ms Ferres-Miles reiterated it was inconsistent with what she had recorded and evidence she’d provided to the tribunal from VicRoads.

Ms Ferres-Miles went on to ask about the disabled carpark to which Mr DeYoung confirmed that it technically doesn’t comply with Australian Standards but does comply with planning scheme requirements. At this point Mr Townshend SC interjected saying he was comfortable with splay, the carpark is located in the best most logical position in a constrained site and that there might be minor tweaks for acceptable design conditions.

After some questions and interjections around pedestrian circulation Ms Ferres-Miles went on to ask how Mr DeYoung thought 2 lanes could fit into a 5.4 width on Burwood Highway, to which Mr DeYoung said there could be a reduction in the footpath reserve to fit two lanes in. He said his plan was a concept based on an aerial plan of the area, it was theoretically possible but there were pros and cons, he also confirmed he had not modelled his concept plan in SIDRA.

Ms Ferres-Miles went on to ask about the right hand queuing into McNicol Rd from Burwood Hwy, to which Mr DeYoung confirmed he did not know the queuing capacity of the right hand lane, and on talking about the signalisation of McNicol Rd suggested that the right hand turn into McDonalds from Burwood Hwy may have to be the “sacrificial lamb” and McDonalds might have to lose that access point if the signalised intersection went in.

Mr DeYoung went on to say he had not completed a swept path diagram for buses entering Sandells Rd and said it was a matter that will need attention at the functional layout stage and it was too early to contemplate.

On questions around shower facilities for employees Mr DeYoung said there were specific McDonalds OH&S issues on site, given the age of the their worker populations and issues of young boys and girls in change rooms together. With this Mr DeYoung was excused and Ms Elizabeth Hui took the stand to present the acoustic evidence for McDonalds.

Ms Mimi Marcus was first to cross examine on behalf of council and raised issues around meeting the noise level guidelines outlined in SEPP-N1 (this provides guidance around acceptable noise levels). As part of the examination Ms Hui revealed that it was necessary for McDonalds to make deliveries between 6am and 7am and in doing so meet SEPP-N1 but not the guidelines. Ms Marcus also raised questions around the elevation of the terrace and the noise impacts on the surrounding area. Ms Hui conceded that the terraced area will need to be assessed in the summer months to ascertain noise levels.

At this point Mr Townshend SC interjected saying he client had accepted the condition to close the terrace at 10pm.

At 12:25 David Jewell commenced his cross examination of Ms Hui. Mr Jewell questioned the position of the noise source to inform the results of Ms Hui’s evidence. Mr Townshend SC interjected. Mr Jewell went on to ask about how many voices contribute to “voices” as outlined in evidence, the fencing and how gaps would be addressed between the various fence treatments, the height of the Customer Ordering Devices (CODs) in relation to the acoustic fences as well as the view line and bulk of acoustic fences at 89 Sandells Rd.

After a hefty morning, we were all pleased to break for lunch, where upon resumption Mr Jewell finished his cross examination and Mr Radisich commenced his. He opened by taking about impact on general amenity and asked if the new plan for the loading bay had been modelled for amenity impacts. Mr Townshend SC objected saying this was a Business 1 Zone and this was an appropriate use. Mr Radisich highlighted clause 34.01 (the amenity provisions) that applies regardless of the zoning of the land and that this application seeks to change the characteristics of the area.

In relation to the grades on site Ms Hui conceded that a localised treatment may be required to attenuate noise impacts. Mr Radisich then presented an earlier mock up drawing he had completed to which Mr Townshend SC interjected disagreeing with the diagram prepared by Mr Radisich. Mr Radisich went on to question the impact of CODs and why in the initial assessment of noise impacts 2-4 Sophia Grove was included but was no longer included in the more recent report.

At the finish of Mr Radisich’s cross examination Member Rundell said he was reluctant to allow Mr Williams to cross examine and said he should focus or right of reply and permit conditions. Member Carew asked questions around the construction detail of the fence, Mr Townshend SC confirmed it was timber paling. Member Carew also reconfirmed that SEPP-N1 was based on objective criteria.

At 3:47pm Mr Townshend SC commenced his summing up on behalf of McDonalds. He said we’d heard about traffic and ‘regional hierarchy network issues’ (nb: objectors didn’t think that extending evidence to traffic at Glenfern Rd, 400m away would be considered regional), that the existing conditions on the road network are the existing conditions. He went on to talk about the there was no escaping the sheer realities of the planning scheme and that Business 1 zoning was about intensive development, that it was not reasonable to criticise built form on requirements for use (nb: the use is as of right), that there’s no overlays and the land is unconstrained except by notions of character and built form.

He went on to talk about in all places in the Dandenongs, which is about conservation and recreation, this was where this development should be. With that he produced aerial photos of a host of other McDonalds stores, to prove that pedestrians and cars share lanes and that it works just fine and you won’t see designated pedestrian areas.

Mr Townshend SC said the cross examination had gone to a level of detail not necessary, as these were design detail matters and with regard to the easements he would leave that for final resolution in draft conditions.  Member Rundell called for a short break and after that a levels and section plan was presented by Mr Townshend SC.

At this point Member Rundell queried the availability of a cross section of the loading bay, carriageway easement and disabled car park so the tribunal could get a picture of how precisely the corkscrew would work. Mr Townshend SC confirmed that he could provide this for the tribunal.

At this point Member Rundell asked Mr Townshend SC to run through the draft conditions. Member Rundell assured the gallery that this was part and parcel of a VCAT hearing and we shouldn’t think that the tribunal had already made a decision.

After Mr Townshend SC spoke to the draft conditions we heard right of replies from Ms Marcus (for council), Mr Jewell, Ms Ferres-Miles, Mr Radisich and Mr Hall. All of them highlighting the constraints of the site to accommodate the proposal whilst others detailed the lack of matters considered in the original council officer’s report.  As part of Ms Ferres-Miles right of reply she referred to the 9 examples of McDonalds stores presented earlier by Mr Townshend SC and pointed out that in every case they included painted pedestrian crossings and speed humps, so were more pedestrian friendly than the current application which has been designed for cars not people.

Finally after the right of replies we heard from the various parties in relation to draft permit conditions. Ms Marcus opened, followed by Mr Hall who reiterated the need for McDonalds to be responsible for the upkeep of the easements (the driveway). At that point Member Rundell said that the permit applies to McDonalds land and a permit condition might not be the best way to achieve this outcome (on someone else’s land). To which Mr Townshend SC snapped back you could talk to your neighbours, it was clear by Mr Townshend SC’s comments that McDonalds haven’t talked to their neighbours about these key issues around impact. Mr Hall also advocated for a more active security system not just cameras as they are too passive.

Ms Ferres-Miles was next in presenting comments in relation to draft conditions which included a range of different issues. These included the relocation of the disabled car park and appropriate disability access to the building, a pedestrian walkway along the driveway, a safe pedestrian crossing point at the rear of the building, no right turns into the site from Burwood Hwy, the addition of traffic signals at McNicol Rd, rearticulation of the frontage of the building to provide a finer grain built form, deletion of numerous signs, additions of timber finishes, levelling of areas where CODs are located, closure of the store between 11pm and 6am, consolidating all light sources to calculate lighting spill, a curfew of signage between 9pm and 7am, shutting the rear drive through area and car parking adjacent to residential properties between 9pm and 7am, extension of the litter patrol to 500m (not the 100m suggested), no deliveries between 9pm and 7am, how public access will be maintained along the carriageway easements during construction and the inclusion of a Bushfire Management Plan.

Member Carew asked how could installing speed humps at the rear of DVD Destination be facilitated legally through a planning permit given this land is not part of the application. Mr Townshend SC suggested that the best way for a sensible outcome is to have a discussion with the neighbours and have permit conditions that include ‘subject to the consent of landowners’. He went on to ask Member Carew if the tribunal would like him to draft an enabling document and sent it through.

After a very long and intense day the hearing had come to an end. Member Rundell thanked the professional advocates, said that resident advocates had done an exceptional job putting forward their views and covered a huge amount of material. He also thanked the people who sat through the hearing saying they were remarkable resilient and assured all in the gallery that the tribunal members had seen and heard you.

Member Rundell said that the tribunal were going to be angels and demons at decision time and the decision would be made in 6 weeks time.

The hearing finished at 5:47pm, what an enormous community effort, I have been impressed by the way the community has worked together to form an incredibly cohesive team to put forward the case for the Dandenong Ranges.

I have been proud to be a part of this enormous community campaign which has been an exhausting process for many people involved.

We live in a place of great beauty, with a wonderful community who bring with them a range remarkable and diverse skills and these have truly been showcased over the 8 days of this hearing. I thank each and every one of you for your efforts. Let’s hope we get the right decision.

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Monday, September 03, 2012

mcdonalds appeal - day 7

One of the Say No to McDonalds Community Meetings
Day 7 and around a month to the day saw the resumption of the McDonalds Tecoma VCAT appeal.

Around 20 community members attended, it's been terrific to have a constant community presence at the tribunal.

Hearing chair, Tribunal Member Geoff Rundell, reminded us of the planned schedule for the next two days, traffic expert evidence for day 7 with acoustic expert evidence for day 8 along with right of replies and discussion of draft conditions.

Member Rundell advised the hearing that he and Member Megan Carew had visited the site at around 3:30 to 4pm on 23 August to look at the school, pre school, traffic and adjacent dwellings.

First expert for the day was traffic expert, Mr John Hunt for Cardno, after presenting his evidence he was cross examined by council, community members and Town Planner Tim.

He presented on many elements of the application. The fact that VicRoads had approved the proposal, that Sandells Road is signalised and provides community with safe traffic movement, that turn in traffic along this section of Burwood Hwy is effectively controlled by signals and give way signage, that his theoretical modelling shows a queue length in Burwood Hwy of 216m (nb: to give you an idea Glenfern Rd is approximately 450m from Sandells Rd), that there'd been no siginficant accidents and said that the evidence presented earlier (by Judy Woolf) on accidents looked at intersections further away that are not related to the subject site (he was talking about Rutherford Rd and Walter St).

He did highlight that he thought a better option could be found for bicycle parking than in the loading dock area. He talked us through how the loading dock would work with trucks driving down the driveway and reversing into the dock. 

He said that 23% of trips to the site would be "generator trips", these are additional trips to the site, 38% are "primary trips", where the site is the destination and 39% are "passing trips", those made whilst just passing, not especially planned.

As part of his evidence he provided modified plans of the loading dock so it conforms with Australian Standards (it didn't up till now) as well as a modified circulation plan (how cars navigate down the driveway and up the drive through) that didn't include using the private land of 1527 Burwood Hwy (the first version did!). He also presented new plans for the disabled car park to give it a grade of 1:33, a ramp up of 1:8 all whilst matching the current slope of the driveway.

Late in the morning cross examination started. Council raised a few issues, particularly around the lack of fully accessible pedestrian access and reinforcing that local planning policies look to improve pedestrian links. Mr Hunt stated that he thought pedestrian access is satisfactory.

Karl Williams was first of the community cross examiners and did a terrific job. Mr Williams asked about the traffic generation data and raised doubts about the reliability of the information given the range of variability. He went on to ask on what basis had Frankston and East Doncaster stores been selected to provide comparitive data. He also asked what relationship Glen Waverley had to Tecoma in terms of traffic generation.

Mr Williams went on to point out the proposal for Tecoma was around 8km away from the nearest McDonalds, unlike metropolitan stores which are, on average, 4kms apart, suggesting that the catchment is likely to be larger and hence the traffic generation too. Mr Hunt indicated that some traffic would be from generated from trips to key tourist destinations like Grants Picnic Ground and Puffing Billy so wouldn't be additional trips on the road network.

At the 30 minute mark Mr Chris Townshend SC (McDonalds legal representative) interjected. Mr Williams continued his cross examination and focussed on the Customer Order Devices, the queue lengths on Burwood Hwy, the traffic modelling methods applied, the parking, the case studies used in evidence for comparitive data, the inadequacy of the disabled car park, the loading dock, bicycle parking and accident records. His cross examination took us up to lunch time where Member Rundell called for a break and with that a caution that we'd had answers about most topics and not pursuing in great depth them again when we resumed after lunch.

After lunch Claire Ferres-Miles commenced her cross examination and did a great job on behalf of the community. Her experience as a traffic engineer came to the fore as she asked many questions on the technical elements of Mr Hunt's evidence.

Ms Ferres-Miles sought evidence on the date of Mr Hunt's site visits and highlighted that they were in school holidays when traffic is significantly modified. She also learned that Mr Hunt had witnessed the queueing in Burwood Hwy once and seen analysis captured by camera. In evidence Mr Hunt stated that Burwood Hwy was 12m wide (nb: width is important in terms of making all the right hand turns work - into BP, into site, into McNicol Rd). Ms Ferres-Miles asked Mr Hunt if he had measured the road width, to which he said his staff had advised him and he wasn't sure of the technique they'd used. Ms Ferres-Miles said that she had measured the road width and it was 11m wide tapering down to 10m wide.

She asked Mr Hunt why he had not included McNicol Rd in his analysis given it it Tecoma's busiest local collector road (carrying around 3,500 vehicles a day). Mr Hunt said it was because the site was directly accessed from Burwood Hwy and Sandells Rd. She further queried this by describing the current conditions that see cars wanting to turn right into McNicol Rd queueing on the chevron lines of Burwood Hwy as there isn't enough capacity in the linemarked turn lane and the potential for that to conflict with right hand turns into the site. Mr Hunt said that was unlikely to occur (although survey data collected by the community would indicate differently).

She went on to ask about the path a 12.5m rigid truck would take to access the loading dock (nb: these are the standard trucks used by McDonalds for deliveries) which would see it cross the centre line (now proposed to have chevron line markings) of Burwood Highway and enter on the wrong side of the driveway, drive past the loading dock and reverse in whilst traversing the east west carriageway easement and avoiding landscaping beside the drive through lane and the 2m drop to the next level.

Mr Hunt agreed that it was difficult to measure traffic variation with one sample. He went on to say he didn't know what the variations are in this area, that some variations are seasonal but in this case there isn't variation around cars using paralled arterial roads as there isn't any.

Ms Ferres Miles asked many questions around the modelling done by Mr Hunt using a software program called SIDRA and highlighted the complexity of the road network in this area where it was revealed that the 6 car parking spaces on Burwood Hwy weren't included (they have an effect on traffic flow) and neither was the BP Service Station as it wasn't part of the immendiate network (even though it is near to opposite the site).

Mr Hunt talked about his modelling using SIDRA, which showed the queues extended to 216m and restated that the development would not impact on the road network with the additional traffic generated there wont be a noticable change. Mr Hunt also confirmed that he had not taken any counts of cyclists or pedestrians as part of his report.

Ms Ferres-Miles pointed out that within a 150m stretch of Burwood Hwy there are 12 access points to which Mr Hunt replied that the road works with abutting land use.

Ms Ferres-Miles went on to talk about intersection analysis and queried Mr Hunt's evidence around the 216m queue length as community surveying had showed queue lengths of 600m to 1.2kms. She also queried the fact that Mr Hunt's analysis had looked independently at each intersection rather than an integrated model. Mr Hunt said it was standard to treat intersections in isolation and SIDRA was about theoretical capacity. On this Ms Ferres-Miles raised queries about inputs used by Mr Hunt to SIDRA in that the turn lane width data was incorrect, the grade of Sandells Rd wasn't included, the speed limit on Sandells Rd was indicated as 60kph, the timing of the traffic light signalling was incorrect, that parking spots weren't included, as all of these inputs have an effect on the output of data on SIDRA.

Mr Hunt confirmed he had not investigated 'rat runs' as part of his report, he also confirmed that he had not included bus route 699 (that runs down Sandells Rd) as part of his report - it was at this point that Mr Townshend SC interjected saying we were spending a lot of time on the road network, not on this particular proposal. Member Rundell asked Ms Ferres-Miles to focus on the proposal.

Ms Ferres Miles queried Mr Hunt on as to why he hadn't selected Ferntree Gully, Boronia or even as mentioned earlier by Mr Hunt, Lilydale or Croydon as suitable examples of traffic generation.  Mr Hunt said he didn't think it appropriate.

She went on to talk about Australian Standards for positioning of the Customer Order Devices in that they should be on a grade of 1:20, Mr Hunt said he wasn't specifically aware of this element of the Standards and said nice if you achieve it but in this case the grade would be 1:10 to 1:12 and that he wasn't concerned about this as people put their foot on the brake as they order.

The issue about pedestrian access was covered and Mr Hunt conceded a safe crossing point on the east/west carriageway easement would be a marginal improvement.

The disabled car park was raised, particular the safety and sight lines. Mr Hunt suggested you would drive into the carparking space and reverse out. When the issue of sight constraints was raised he said it could be improved with a mirror opposite the car park (nb: this would be on the land of the neighbour). Ms Ferres-Miles went on to query the sloped ramp to the disabled car park, highlighting that any person accessing the rear of their car to access mobility aids would be on an uneven slope at a grade of 1:8 sloping downwards to match the driveway. Mr Hunt said the space could be designed acceptably.

Mr Tim Radisich (also known as Town Planner Tim) was next to cross examine Mr Hunt. He queried Mr Hunt's views on the Australian Standards as a design standard, Mr Hunt said it was a guideline and treated as such. He also raised the issue of the disabled carpark and the issues for any driver trying to reverse out of the carpark into a driveway with little vision. Mr Hunt reiterated it was the best space for the disabled park and then went on to say that the other option would be onstreet with negotiation with Council (nb: the width of the Burwood Hwy car parks would never satisfy the provisions for a disabled park).

Mr Hunt told Mr Radisich that he didn't think a delivery truck crossing the centre line of the driveway would unduly cause operational issues. Mr Radisich also highlighted that the truck would also encroach on the disabled car parking space too. He went on to query how the waste trucks would operate on the site given the plans and the indicated location of bins - at this point Mr Townshend interjected again about how this might be going to the use of the site (which is an as of right use) and might go to a condition on permit. Member Rundell reiterated his concern about the very limited time and said that the questioning was not all that helpful to us.

Mr Radisich replied by saying goes to acoustic performance, to which Member Carew said she had some questions on levels and other details on the minutae of the plans but didn't want to spend time with Mr Hunt as they were probably questions for McDonalds to answer.  Mr Townshend said they are going to have to take out the garbage. Member Carew said the loading bay works according to Mr Hunt but I still have questions I want to ask. At that point Mr Radisich highlighted the 2m drop when trucks reverse into the loading bay which is a serious design consideration to which Member Carew responded these are matters for McDonalds not Mr Hunt and with that Mr Hunt left the witness stand at 3:45pm.

Traffic expert, Mr Tim DeYoung from GTA, was the next witness presented by McDonalds. He started his evidence by being critical of the analysis provided by Mr Hunt of Cardno saying it was highly conservative. He also talked about the queue line, the traffic light cycle times, the circulation around the site and reminded the tribunal that the prior supermarket application with over 3000 traffic movements was acceptable to VicRoads.  He also said there was nothing to prevent the intersection of McNicol Rd being signalised and changing Burwood Highway eastbound to two lanes up to Sandells Rd.

At this point Member Carew asked a series of questions of Mr DeYoung. She firstly queried the level diagram presented by the landscape architect which indicates a 500mm drop from the car park level to the fenceline to which Mr DeYoung had to take her question on notice as to whether there'd be some slight levelling of the car parking on site.

Member Carew went on to ask about limiting right hand turns at various points which weren't supported by Mr DeYoung as he thought it best to retain flexibility in the car park/drive through area. Member Carew also asked about a left turn splitter island to encourage only left hand turns out of the site onto Burwood Hwy, the potential to provide speed humps on the exit to Sandells Rd (at the rear of DVD Destination), the 12 spaces indicated for the drive through as to whether that's an average or worst case, the potential to shut down the drive through in the evening - at this point Mr Townshend interjected, saying this was a council suggestion from a traffic engineers which ended up on the list of conditions somehow.

Member Carew also asked about how McDonalds patrons could be prevented from parking in the neighbouring car park at 1527 Burwood Hwy, Mr De Young said that signage, line marking, restricting to 5 minute parking and enforcement by tenants as options. She also asked questions about the loading bay design, the pedestrian movement and the potential to linemark pedestrian space up beside the loading bay to which Mr DeYoung said he wasn't convinced that it was necessary.

Member Carew asked about pedestrians negotiating the rear car park and lanes of traffic to access the rear staircase. Mr DeYoung explained that is was a shared zone, and that there is a school of thought that encourages walking in certain locations and that he doesn't join that school of thought. He didn't believe a pedestrian crossing was needed and safety should be encouraged through signage.

Member Carew asked about the presentation of the loading bay, as it was not the best, and explored if it could be located in an alternate area. She also explored the opportunities to 'flip' the design as the grades are less on the eastern side.

Mr Townshend again interjected offering for Mr DeYoung to access a horizontal section from the architect to assist the tribunal.  Member Carew went on to ask more questions about the location of the CODS and whether they would overlook adjoining properties.

The day came to an end at 4:37pm with tribunal Chair, Member Rundell, advising that Mr DeYoung's evidence would be constrained to a couple of hours tomorrow to allow cross examination of acoustic evidence of Ms Hui, followed by right of replies and permit conditions and with that determined that day 8 of the hearing should commence half an hour earlier at 9:30am.

It was a big day, very intense, but my congratulations to community members who attended and those who cross examined - you were great, I'm sure that level of cross examination was not anticipated by the experts from community members - well done.  

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