Sunday, July 13, 2008

report from the round table – 8 July

This edition of report from the round table is a summary of some of the items up for consideration at the council meeting. (Report from the round table is news and views of the fortnightly council meetings from my perspective)

A varied night at council this week, to start proceedings there was a planning scheme amendment (East Ridge) in Chirnside Park. Councillors felt it was important that the Chirnside Park Major Activity Centre amendment proceed ahead of the amendment for the East Ridge. I couldn’t agree more and voted with my colleagues for this.

Next up was the proposed new Lilydale Police Station. The Minister for Planning has allowed the new station to be constructed without a planning permit, however the plans do need to be approved by council before works can proceed. There was a lot of discussion about public/visitor parking for the station with the police submitting amended plans at the eleventh hour. I was very concerned that the traffic and parking report contained data from 1998, not very current. A number of councillors were concerned about the lack of appropriate parking for visitors and in the end the plans were rejected by the majority of councillors. I want to see a new police station built but it must not cause traffic or parking chaos due to shortage of parking spaces.

A view worth protecting, the magnificent Dandenong Ranges, a jewel in Melbourne's crown, the lungs of Melbourne and home.

Following this was a resubdivision of two lots in Hughes Street, Upwey. The site is very prominent on the front flank of the Dandenong Ranges. It is an important visual landscape not only for locals but for all Melburnians. I was happy to second a motion to keep the height of any building 3.5 metres from the natural ground level. We need to protect this area, it’s very sensitive and we do not want to encourage clutter on such an important landscape.

Then came a difficult application, intersection improvement works on Berwick & Wellington Rds. The application sought to remove 28 trees as well as low lying vegetation. As a compromise I sought not only offset planting within the Shire of Yarra Ranges but amenity planting as near as possible to where the trees will be removed along Berwick Road. It is always difficult to balance retention of vegetation with safety improvements of the road network.

The magnificent Baluk Willam Nature Conservation Reserve, environmentally significant, containing over one third of Victoria's native orchids.

There were a few other items, I won’t mention them here except for the Special Charge Scheme to seal Courtney’s Road in Belgrave South. The road goes through the Baluk Willam Nature Conservation Reserve, significant within Victoria as it is home to hundreds of native orchids. The Friends of Baluk Willam Nature Conservation Reserve had raised a number of issues they were concerned about. I assured them that both the Friends Group and Parks Victoria will be presented with further plans to ensure they are satisfied with any of the works prior to them being undertaken.

The Shire has prepared an Environmental Management Plan for the project to ensure that the works do not impact on the sensitive environment and I am very mindful of the significance of the area. The Shire will also make sure contractors working on the project are abundantly aware of this significance too.

You never know what you might be dealing with next at council, I am always mindful of making decisions for the long term benefit of all.

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