Yearly Report – 3228 Residents Association Inc. for 2013/2014
In the last few months of 2013 after our AGM in October, we were busy with the C66 Amendment. Following up on our submission and presentation to the Panel hearing we then organized a community letter which was endorsed by 9 community groups and published in the Echo and Surf Coast Times. We met with Councilors Wellington and Smith and attempted to meet with Councilor Goldsworthy ( who wasn’t interested in meeting with us). Emails were sent to all councilors, Government ministers, our local representative Andrew Katos and members of the opposition who had previously shown support for our community. We attended the council meeting which voted to proceed with Amendment C66 and awaited the Minister’s decision which didn’t come until March. Coverage on ABC radio and TV and in The Age demonstrated our dismay at the Minister’s response in rezoning the land 1kl west of Duffields Rd.
In December we made a submission to the Review of the Victorian Coastal Strategy 2013. The results of the review haven’t yet been released.
Also in December we asked for clarification from SC Shire as to why the playground at Bob Pettit Reserve was not nominated as a dog free area? The brochure on the SCS website shows it as off leash which is very confusing. Several emails later and the problem has still not been rectified. The playground in Carnarvon avenue Jan Juc had a “Dogs Off Leash” sticker on the rubbish bin – this has been removed after we alerted SC Shire.
Just prior to Christmas we received an intriguing letter from “Santa”. The letter comprised 3 pages with a table that showed the connections between Panel members, VCAT members, the VPELA (The Victorian Planning & Environmental Association) and the UDIA (Urban Development Institute of Australia). Many of the people mentioned including barristers, expert witnesses and panel members were involved with the C66 Panel hearing . The implication of the letter was that because of the connections these people have it is very difficult to believe that the results are unbiased. It is available if anyone wants to read it.
The sale of public land in Torquay Blvde was advertised just before Christmas. The committee spent a lot of time researching legislation and council policy and produced a submission that was highly critical of the past and present actions of council officers which had allowed this issue to drag on for over 10 years. We also made an oral presentation to councilors. Together with some other determined residents we convinced council to radically change the conditions of their offer and also their future approach to selling public land. We are still waiting on a resolution.
In January we were contacted by John Lender – journalist for The Sunday Age, who was interested in our opinion of the bushfire readiness of our town. We managed to turn the story into more about the effect on of our town of the rapid growth that has taken place over the last 10 years and the inability of infrastructure to keep pace.
In January we also became aware the government was intending to sell the majority of Bob Pettit Reserve as it was surplus to the Education Departments requirements. There was understandably a public outcry. We have sent emails to the Premier, government ministers , members of the opposition and councilors. We also spoke with the press to highlight the importance of this park to the community. Recently, council voted not to accept officer recommendations to purchase the land for over $2 million. They are willing to pay $500,000.
We attended the information sessions on Long Vehicle Parking. This was looking for solutions to parking for visitor’s buses and caravans. It gave us an opportunity to suggest that the large buses, currently used public transport, are also a problem and that smaller buses would be more safe and efficient.
Our first public meeting was held in March. Our invited guests – The Mayor and CEO of the SC Shire were involved in lively discussions on topics ranging from dogs and where & when they can walk, planning matters, especially what will happen in spring Creek, traffic and the sale of Bob Pettit reserve.
In March we were invited to attend a meeting with SC Shire planners to discuss the new Residential Zones. We also made a submission (on our website). We thought that it would be a good opportunity to have some control over building heights, especially in the smaller coastal towns including Jan Juc. In May, the officers recommended to keep the status quo (and councilors voted to accept their recommendation) and so currently the whole of the shire has been zoned GRZ which offers no control over building heights.
At our May committee meeting it was resolved to join the Victorian Ratepayers Association. We felt the cost of $40 a year was worthwhile. It shows solidarity with other ratepayers and is a source of information to benefit our group.
Also in May our Treasurer, Helen, had the arduous task of reading through the SC Shire Budget for 2014/2015. Helen wrote a submission and it was presented to council. (on our website). The rates for this financial year will rise 4.75%.
In June we attended the State Government consultation about unconventional gas exploration in the surf Coast Shire. A current exploration licence – PEP 163 – covers areas of 3228. There is real concern, in the community, of the effects of onshore gas exploration and the implications for the tourist industry, food production and amenity. There is currently a moratorium in place until July next 2015 and the results of the consultation will not be available for several months.
In June the community was made aware of a proposal for a large Caravan/Cabin Park on the outskirts of Torquay. The proposal has generated a lot of concern from residents, particularly those living near to the proposal. We attended the first of the 3 information sessions and it was clear that many of the concerns that people had regarding the possible future use of the large amount of cabins could not be legally restricted. Our submission is available on the website.
Spring Creek – we are concerned that there is still no indication of consultation with the community over the development of Spring Creek, as promised by SCS. Prior to the June council meeting there were emails to councilors about the adoption of changes to the 2040 document to reflect the minister’s decision on Spring Creek - http://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/My_Council/Agendas_Minutes/Council_Agendas_Minutes/council_minutes_14/Meeting_24_June_2014?minutes see item 23 and the appendix for Item 23 which shows a map with numbers of lots which we feel pre-empts the consultation process and will be used by developers as a reference document. Some councilors queried this but were told by Kate Sullivan(Director of Planning & Environment) that it wasn’t a policy document.
In July the Labour candidate for South Barwon, Andy Richards, held a “meet the community” session which we attended. We asked questions about the law and order issue (no police presence 24/7), the sale of Bob Pettit, political donations from developers, the current powers of the Minister for Planning, the future of renewable energy in Victoria, and a position on the Anglesea power plant and coal mine. Mr Richards gave his own opinion on these matters but said the Labour party’s policies would not be announced for a few months. Hopefully we will be hosting a candidate’s forum closer to the state government elections so that we can hear from all candidates.
Gas shortages in the last few weeks have caused a lot of concern in the community. The problem seems to be widespread and is worst when the weather is particularly cold. We have been in contact with SP Ausnet who have acknowledged to decreasing pressure is due to the number of connections. Residents may be eligible for compensation. We are following up on this issue.
We continue to represent the interests of the community at all levels of government.