Proposal for over 500 cabins and 200 caravan sites on display

As reported in the Geelong Advertiser  -  http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/geelong/million-tourist-park-proposed-for-torquay/story-fnjuhovy-1226963038899,  recently, there is a Planning Application with the SCS to develop a site on the corner of Coombes and Ghazepore Roads into a large tourist accommodation park. http://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/My_Property/Building_Planning/Planning/Applications_On_Public_Exhibition/350_Coombes_Road_and_1200_Ghazeepore_Road_Freshwater_Creek

The size of the park and the amount of traffic it will generate in Coombes Road is causing some concern among residents who live in the vicinity.

The SCS is holding an information session about the proposal on 3rd July. Interested persons are invited to drop in any time between 4pm and 7pm on Thursday 3 July, Council Chambers, 1 Merrijig Drive Torquay.  - http://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/News_Directory/Caravan_Park_Application

 

Rates to rise by 4.75% after changes to the SCS budget changes.

At its meeting on 26th June, the Surf Coast Shire councilor voted to adopt the budget for 2014/2015 without the controversial Tourist Accommodation Rate category.

We asked the question: -

Is it correct that shire officers are proposing to discontinue the proposed  Tourist Accommodation Rate category resulting in an increase in general rates – now being greater than expected with an increase of 4.75% compared to the 3.72% that was previously forecast? If this is correct, what is the reasoning behind this change?

Council’s Chief Executive Officer – Stephen Wall responded:

Council will consider the Adoption of the Annual Budget 2014-2015 and Declaration of Rates for 2014-2015 as item 1.3 on tonight’s Agenda. It is recommended that the proposed tourist accommodation differential rate be removed from the 2014-2015 Budget. Council received a total of 88 submissions on 2014-2015

Budget, 68 of these expressed concern around the proposed introduction of a tourist accommodation differential rate. This identified that more work needs to be completed by Council before such a differential rating category can be introduced. Ms O’Shanassy is correct that the removal of this rating category will result in an increase in general rates. I encourage Ms O’Shanassy to stay tonight and hear the debate and decision on the Annual Budget 2014-2015 and Declaration of Rates for 2014-2015.

Read our well researched submission to council prepared by our Treasurer, Helen Torley:

                                                                        3228 Residents Association Incorporated

                                                          (Org. No. A0058442K)   

26 May 2014                                                                                      

 Mr Stephen Wall

Chief Executive Officer

Surf Coast Shire Council, PO Box 350,Torquay Vic 3228

 Dear Stephen,

 SUBMISSION : SURF COAST SHIRE DRAFT BUDGET 2014 - 2015

We seek clarification and further consideration of several important aspects of the Surf Coast Shire Draft Budget 2014 – 2015, which will impact on our members and the community.  

 Whilst the Budget is extensive in size, in fact 93 pages long, it lacks detail on WHY decisions have been made and WHY the Shire feels its Budget is reasonable and fair.  In it current format, the Budget is time consuming and daunting for community members to decipher – the Budget is an important document which should be provided in a format that can be easily read and understood by the community.  In future years, we suggest a more succinct summary is provided to explain to ratepayers why the key Budget assumptions have been made, what the main changes are and how the level of rates and Shire performance has been measured to ensure it is in line with “Best Practice”.

 In addition, we raise the following more specific aspects regarding the 2014 – 2015 Budget:

 Introduction of “Tourist Accommodation” rating class  This appears to be a significant change in revenue collection for this sector of our community.  What other Shires use this rating class and  what % do they charge (Pg 53)?  The Shire website currently advises that a Tourism Special Charge is collected from these type of properties to help support Tourism development.  What is the current charge vs proposed Tourist Accommodation Rate?  What is the revenue differential?  Why the need to change? In addition, we feel that the definition of Tourist Accommodation Rate Land (Pg 70) is ambiguous and open to challenge. 

 The Budget estimates reclassification of a large number commercial and residential properties as Tourist Accommodation (702 properties with an average value of $628K each).  How have / will these properties be identified / monitored and will additional resources be required for this purpose? 

 By collection of this new fee on residential based tourist accommodation, will this sector be more heavily promoted, and thereby encouraged?  There are already problems due to the inappropriate mix of tourist accommodation in residential areas (e.g. especially during Schoolies and peak holiday times).

 State Government Guidelines (Section161) state that the use of Tourist Accommodation for differentiation of rates is “inappropriate”.  They advise to “consider with caution”.  Alternatively, they recommend that a special charge may be more appropriate.  It appears that the Shire is going against the State Government guidelines - why?

    Reduction in Commercial / Industrial rate charge

Why is the Commercial / Industrial rate being reduced from 190% to 170%.  Budget states....”to support employment in the Region”.  What is the basis for this statement.  How will an average $326 reduction in rates per commercial rate payer improve employment prospects?

Increase in budgeted borrowings for FYE 15/16 by $3M to $ 18.3M 

The proposed increase in borrowings by $3M, to fund the Torquay North Early Learning Centre, was not foreseen in the Shires previous budgets.  In fact, Annual Report 6/13 (finalised approx 6 months earlier than this Budget), on page 52, forecasts borrowings to reduce to $15.3M by the end of 15/16.  AR 6/13 also states that “Council...is now in a phase of debt reduction.” and also “Council does not propose to increase borrowings to expand the capital works program”. 

Why has the debt strategy changed from a phase of debt reduction to increasing borrowings in such a short time frame?  By reducing Commercial rates (as mentioned above), the Shire is foregoing at least $255K in revenue that could be used to reduce the level of borrowings required.  The community deserves some explanation!

 General

  1. The budget does not provide data on how performance compares to other Shires to ensure level of rates, wages, costs, etc. are appropriate? This is important benchmarking information that should be provided to the public as part of the budget process.  Also, with Employee numbers, there has been a significant, unexplained variation in EFT, from last years Budget (2013 – 2014), which forecast 230 EFT at end of 2013 / 14, compared to the Revised Forecast in this years Budget (2014 – 2015) of 248 EFT as at 2013 / 14.  Why have employee number jumped by 18 EFT or 7.2% over forecast levels?

     Finally, if there is capacity for rate relief now, why is it not extended to all ratepayers, rather than just to Commercial ratepayers?  For this reason alone, the current budget is not “equitable and affordable (Pg 30)” to all ratepayers.

     Summary

    Whilst we apologise for our Submission questioning much of the Shires Budget, this does not mean that we disagree with all assumptions within the Budget.  What we are saying is that the Budget DOES NOT provide the necessary detail and justification for the assumptions contained within the document.  This is not fair to the community and is not reflective of open and transparent local government.

     Of course,  I am sure that, as a council, you have much more data, benchmark results, etc. to show why budget decisions have been made and to reflect that performance is in line with other well run, efficient Councils.  We welcome hearing about this in response to our submission.

    Regards,

    Helen Torley

    Treasurer 3228RA Inc

     

New Residential zones

3228 RA was invited to meet with planning officers of the Surf Coast Shire to discuss the new Residential Zones being introduced by the State government on 1st July 2014.

As reported in the local paper and on the SCS website, the council officers recommended that council adopt a policy neutral stance that would best maintain the "status quo".

It is the position of the committee that the changeover to the new zones was the perfect opportunity for council to provide more certainty about building heights by using the NRZ - Neighbourhood Residential Zone (which prescribes building heights are restricted to 8 metres) in certain areas of the shire.  The General Residential Zone does not have a specific height limit and is therefore more open to interpretation and possible action at VCAT in our opinion.

Below is our short submission -

New Residential Zones - Submission from 3228 Residents Association

 

The committee of the 3228 Residents Association would like to thank the Surf Coast Shire for inclusion in the discussion of the proposed incorporation of the new residential zones into the surf Coast Planning Scheme.

Members of the committee met with Brydon King and Jorgen Peters on 31st March 2014 to provide our feedback, as requested, in Brydon King’s letter dated March 6th 2014. In that letter it was stated that Council was proposing “an approach in the Surf Coast shire that will maintain the status quo on residential planning regulations as much as possible”.

We understand that council officers have been extremely busy in the last 12 months, particularly with the C66 Amendment. However, there appears to be a lot of strategic work to be done to provide a considered approach to the new zones and there doesn’t appear to be the time for this to be carried out before the Minister’s deadline. This time constraint may be the reason for the officer’s recommending the zone that maintains the “status quo”. Given that council has started this process so late in the time allocated by the Minister, we believe that it is more appropriate to start from a conservative position on zones and then if needed a change to less conservative position can be adopted later.

As stated in the meeting, we believe that the council should be adopting a more proactive approach than just maintaining the status quo which does not give the protection, especially for height limits, that the community expects and wants. Generally, the residents of Torquay and Jan Juc have been calling for greater controls for some time and this is an opportunity to address that demand.

According to the council letter of 6th March 2014, -The GRZ encourages development that respects an areas character ………………..It puts in place a preferred building height of 2-3 storeys or 9m…………………overlays will seek a preferred height of 7.5m in the coastal townships. It is these highlighted words – encourages, preferred, seek a preferred are exactly why we are concerned by a blanket use of the GRZ. The community continues to ask – how did Bunnings happen? How did the RACV building happen? How could the Liuzzi Group consider it appropriate to put forward a 5 storey proposal on the Esplanade in Torquay (C66 Panel hearing)? These sorts of developments can continue to happen if  the planning controls were not strong enough or were incorrect.

Rather than maintaining the status quo, which we consider does not provide a clear direction with regard to building heights and is open to objection at VCAT, it is our position that the council should initially adopt the NRZ. It is easier to ease restrictions from a position which is more rigid in its controls (NRZ) than to try to tighten them after they have been relaxed. If we take a more 'development friendly' position in zoning(GRZ) and find that the controls are not strong enough, then any lodged application proposed before the controls are reformed would be assessed on those controls and would most likely pass.

It is for this reason that we believe not all of the residential areas of Torquay and Jan Juc (and indeed other coastal towns) should be given a 'blanket' zone of General Residential Zone (GRZ). The church estate, 'old Torquay' and most of Jan Juc should initially be given Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) with current overlays from C66. Some areas within 400m of commercial zones (shopping areas) may be given a different zone that allows higher density. GRZ with current overlays may be appropriate for newer areas of Torquay (Torquay North).

Reading the schedules and overlays doesn’t give us any comfort that height limits will not continue to be challenged beyond those “preferred” by the Surf Coast Shire planning Scheme. For example, Schedule 4 to Clause 32.08, which refers to Jan Juc under point 3.0 “Maximum building height requirement for a dwelling or residential building” – None specified. There is no protection for height limits.

It was pointed out by council officers that the restriction of subdivision into 2 lots only under the NRZ would be too restrictive. This may be so in some parts of old Torquay but generally there are very few blocks that are large enough to allow more than a 2 lot subdivision if a minimum of 300m2 is adhered to. Already we are faced with inadequate parking requirements for unit developments that result in the excess cars being permanently parked on the street, the majority of which, in Jan Juc and other newer areas of Torquay are too narrow to allow safe passage. From observation, it also appears that in some instances the minimum is not being strictly adhered to in some areas of Jan Juc. It is also noted that this can be altered by a schedule to the zone - “allowing a maximum of two dwellings on a lot, with the ability for councils to vary this limit through a schedule to the zone (the minimum can be less or more than two dwellings).”

We believe now is the time for our council to protect the amenity of the towns throughout the shire. You can do that by not maintaining the status quo and adopting the NRZ in where it is more appropriate.

It appears from the Surf Coast Shire website that it has already been decided that council officers intend to recommend the GRZ on the basis that this would be policy neutral. It doesn’t explain why it should maintain this position. Nor does it explain why community consultation hasn’t taken place before the officers decided on this course of action or why there was one “drop in” session in Anglesea on a Wednesday evening for the whole of the shire. It may have been appropriate to be more inclusive in seeking the community’s opinions and better explain your position.

At their meeting on 27th May the SCS councilors voted to accept the officers recommendation that the whole of the shire be zoned GRZ -http://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/My_Council/Agendas_Minutes/Council_Agendas_Minutes Page 40.

Our First Public Meeting

Our first public meeting on the 26th March was attended by the Mayor Rose Hodge and the CEO Steve Wall. We thank them for attending and giving their time out of hours.

There was lively discussion with many issues raised by the audience including:

 What is happening with Bob Pettit Reserve? - The council is still in negotiations with the government and hope to have a resolution to put to the next council meeting in April.

Traffic in Bristol Rd and the intersection with Surfcoast Highway - increased traffic because of Coles; how can it be made more safe? It is proposed that traffic, apart from buses, will not be allowed to turn right out of Bristol Rd into the Surfcoast Highway. As large buses seem to be part of the problem in Bristol Rd, we are not sure this will alleviate the problem.

One member raised concerns about the lack of progress reports from the Surf Coast Shire on topics such as Climate Change and Disability .

Dogs - where they can and can't go at what times - still a controversial subject!

Spring Creek - where to from here? After the decision by the Planning Minister to rezone the 1kl west of Duffields Road to Residential the SCS council has promised that residents will have a say on how the area is developed through a consultation process.

We hope to have more public meetings where residents can ask questions of councilors and council officers about issues that effect them.

Media coverage of Spring Creek decision by Minister Guy

We (3228ra) have had a considerable amount of media coverage since the Minister's decision to intervene in the planning process and rezone 1kl west of Duffields Rd. We had contact with ABC Radio and there was a short piece on ABC TV news (20/3). There was an article in The Age (21/3) and so far there have been 3 articles in the Geelong Advertiser.  In case you missed the articles here are the links -

http://newsstore.theage.com.au/apps/viewDocument.ac?page=1&sy=age&kw=Minister+sparks+sprawl+fears&pb=age&dt=selectRange&dr=week&so=relevance&sf=text&sf=headline&rc=10&rm=200&sp=nrm&clsPage=1&docID=AGE140321E27514FERJP

http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/geelong/minister-rules-spring-creek-open-for-development/story-fnjuhovy-1226859891260

http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/geelong/torquay-residents-anger-at-valley-development-goahead/story-fnjuhovy-1226860948201

http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/torquay-residents-rally-on-spring-creek-plan/story-fnjuhxh0-1226862688541.

Hopefully we can have some involvement in the overall development plan that will be required before development commences.

Andrew Katos replies.....

My Email -

Dear Andrew 
I was disappointed and angered today to learn that Minister Guy has chosen to interfere in the democratic process that usually governs a planning scheme amendment.
His Amendment C095 to the Surf Coast Planning Scheme, which rezones the land 1kl west of Duffields Rd in Torquay to Urban Growth Zone, is against the council resolution to the return the town boundary to Duffields Rd (C66) and more importantly it is against the community’s wishes. In July 2011 he stated that he would listen to the community – he has now reneged.
The most disturbing thing is that as our local State government representative you have ignored the community and have not stood up for or represented our views. Your inaction shows a total disregard and lack of support for the large community of Torquay/ Jan Juc/Bellbrae. I expect they will show you the same lack of support at the upcoming election.
 
We won’t forget.
 
Sue O’Shanassy


REPLY

Dear Sue

I acknowledge your email and note your objection.  However the government has agreed with the independent Planning Panel recommendation to retain the Torquay –Jan Juc settlement boundary at 1km west of Duffields Road.  The land has been zoned within that boundary to give certainty for Council’s future growth plans in Torquay –Jan Juc, not just for expanding outwards, but also for the growth of the town centre and local businesses.

Please be assured that we have also ensured that local planning policy will preserve a permanent green break between Bellbrae and Torquay –Jan Juc. Council can now move forward with long-term strategies to preserve that landscape break in the Spring Creek Valley between the towns.

The Urban Growth Zone requires comprehensive structure planning and takes into account local needs. Densities within this area will be lower than those found in other recent developments such as Armstrong Creek, to ensure that the relaxed lifestyle of Torquay –Jan Juc remains a focus.

kind regards

Andrew

Minister rezones 1kl west of Duffields to Urban Growth Zone

The Minister for Planning has put forward his own Amendment to the SC Planning Scheme which rezones the 1kl west of Duffields Rd to Urban Growth Zone -

C095 The amendment rezones the land from Farming Zone to Urban Growth Zone, and inserts the Urban Growth Zone into the planning scheme ordinance and applies to land generally located one kilometre west of Duffields Road, Torquay (between Grossmans Road and Great Ocean Road).

Link to planning scheme amendment site -http://dsewebapps.dse.vic.gov.au/Shared/ats.nsf/WebViewDisplay?OpenForm&Seq=1&S&South%20Gippsland%3BSouthern%20Grampians%3BStonnington%3BStrathbogie%3BSurf%20Coast%3BSwan%20Hill%3B

I for one will remember the lack of support from Andrew Katos at election time this year.

Letter from the Minister for Local Government

The 3228 Residents Association has received a response to the email we sent on 16/12014 to Andrew Katos and several other politicians including the Premier. A copy of the email -

"Dear Andrew

The government’s intention to sell the Bob Pettit Reserve in Jan Juc which includes tennis courts, extensive playgrounds and a pavilion that is used by the Jan Juc Tennis Club, the Jan Juc Cricket Club, the Jan Juc Playgroup and the wider community as a meeting place has caused a lot of distress and anger in the community. The reserve is also Jan Juc’s only “place of last resort” in the event of bushfire, which is particularly relevant with increasingly extreme weather events such as we are currently experiencing.

On Friday 9th January, a journalist from the Geelong Advertiser rang me, as Secretary of the 3228 Resident’s Association, to ask for comment on the sale of Bob Pettit Reserve. I was shocked to hear that the government was asking the Surf Coast Shire to pay $4 million. I had to tell the journalist that we knew no details of a sale until her phone call. A concerned member did approach our President just after Christmas. A client of the member had told them the land may be sold but had no details.  It is unfortunate that yourself and the government chose not to consult with the stakeholders(the community) and we had to find out about the sale from a journalist.

Since the article was published many people have expressed disbelief that the government (who has just pledged to provide $338 million to upgrade the Melbourne Tennis Centre) intends to sell our tennis courts and associated infrastructure. There has also been some comments that the timing of this process is to take the community’s attention from the very important decision about the C66 Amendment to the Surf Coast Planning. I certainly hope that is not the case.

The Bob Pettit Reserve is vital to the health and wellbeing of the Jan Juc residents, the wider community and for the enjoyment of tourists to our area. We understand that you are heavily involved in the process and expect that our community will not be disadvantaged in any way by the outcome.

Regards"