Footpath Maintenance-part of Rates, Roads, Rubbish

Footpath maintenance is at the core of Council business. Part of the ol’ rates, roads & rubbish mantra of what Councils are there for, aren’t they.

FootpathCouncil is due to receive a report from their depot management proposing a new approach to footpath maintenance. I expect we will receive the report at our August meeting.

Their initial thoughts were work shopped with elected members last Monday night. I felt at our briefing that we had different agendas, councillors and staff.

The focus by staff from the depot was in the life span of a footpath. Their focus was on the evenness or the unevenness of the footpath. In assessing the future of our footpath maintenance you may remember those “moon buggies” driving down your street a year or so ago.

Elected members have been given a short list of streets that staff would like us to compare as being an acceptable standard. Footpaths in streets that have  a greater level of unevenness will qualify for upgrade.

Of more concern I believe to you, our rate payer, and our elected members including myself are the ever present trip hazards that we see now in our paved footpaths. Trip hazards are a more important area of attention in our footpath maintenance regime. While we can be proactive with the unevenness in our footpaths, trip hazards by their very nature can only be treated reactivity.

We currently budget for $ 800 k of proactive maintenance and $ 500 k of reactive maintenance. Our depot management believe we can save $ 200 k from the proactive budget by adjusting our (their) interpretation of what unevenness is acceptable.

The depot, possibly due I think to budget constraints, have looked at 20 mm being an acceptable trip hazard. I personally think 10 mm is excessive and dangerous. Rather than simply saving therefore $ 200 k from our overall budget I believe we (if elected members concur with the new staff unevenness assessment) should divert funds from the proactive evenness to the reactive trip hazard footpath maintenance.

 

Vodafone Phone Tower at Goodwood Oval to be considered by DAP

After the cat 3 public consultation back in August and another just completed consultation undertaken on behalf not of our DAP but Council the Vodafone Phone Tower Development Application at Goodwood Oval will be considered by DAP this Thursday evening.

This is a specially convened meeting and is open to the public. I expect the public gallery will be full. It is a Development Assessment Panel meeting at which those members of the public who made representations way back in August and who indicated a desire in their representation to speak to the panel will be heard. This is in accordance with the Government’s Development Regulations.

Goodwood Oval South East Light Tower

Goodwood Oval South East Light Tower

Everyone is welcome to attend but only to speak if you did indicate your wish to speak when you made your written representation. I will be there as a member of the public and look forward to meeting with you should you choose to come.

The panel, which is made up of 4 independent members and 3 elected members, must make a decision based on the Development Act and on the Unley Development Plan. The members of this panel cannot be lobbied. If they were to partake in conversation with you they would have, under the Development Act, a conflict of interest and would then not be able to vote.

In making an assessment the panel members would have to consider as I see it the following:

1    Whether the development complies with the various Australian standards concerning Electro magnetic radiation.

2   If the final structure impacts negatively on the neighbouring properties and if so whether there is sufficient screening or not to obviate this.

3   Whether the development is suitable or not in the Historic Conservation Zone in which it is located, making it a non-complying development.

The Council’s officer has indicated that he believes they have complied with item 1 and that there is sufficient screening from a visual perspective. The panel may or may not agree with this. The fact remains of course that it IS NON COMPLYING DEVELOPMENT.

If it is not approved that will be the end of it.

If it is approved I believe the proposal must then come before Council which may well be as soon as our next meeting on November 23. The reason for this is they have applied to lease the tower or the portion of public land. That requires council approval on behalf of the community. Hence the recent public consultation that ended just last week.

Should it be heard at that or subsequent meeting, which will also be a public meeting, you can:

1   Make a delegation or prepare a petition for presentation at that meeting. A petition with a delegation by one or two proponents to the petition works best in my experience. I recommend that if you wish to do this you notify the Mayor or the CEO as soon as possible after “a” decision for approval is made by the DAP.

2   Lobby all your elected members/councillors. Their contact details are available freely on the Unley web site.

Once again I would expect the public gallery to be full.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodwood Oval Phone Tower a litmus test for Council’s DAP

I will be watching with interest the upcoming decision by Council’s DAP on the Goodwood Oval Phone Tower proposed proposed by Vodafone. It may well prove a litmus test for the Government’s proposed changes to the Development Act.

 

A number of residents have been confused as to Council’s role in this process. In particular some are of the belief that our elected members should be standing up to whoever is proposing this and saying hands off. They say this on the understanding that there will be only one view without and before knowing if that is in fact the case.

Having said that, if I were a betting man, I would say that is the case.

The fact of the matter is there is a due process that must be followed under state legislation. Council must receive the application and cannot refuse to receive it. That said the Act does allow means for public participation in certain circumstances and the phone tower is one such circumstance.

Beyond that the process provides a mechanism by which the application should be judged. In some cases this is the responsibility of the paid officers of the planning department of council. In others, including this one, that responsibility is vested in the hands of a panel known as the development Assessment Panel or DAP.

It is their job to read and understand the application and the planning officer’s report and recommendation. They must also read and understand any representation made by the public on the matter. They have to determine if the observations made in any representation, whether supporting the application or rejecting the application, is valid under the terms of the development plan.

The State Minister for Planning (and Deputy Premier) John Rau has sited often that elected members sitting on Council DAPs are making politically expedient decisions on planning matters rather than assess the application on is merits against the development plan. This is one of the core reasons why he wants to see councils and in particular elected members removed from the planning assessment process.

Many people in the street, frustrated by perceived delays in getting their 2 storey addition passed through council would probably agree with the minister. The very same people are critical then of Mr Rau for having already taken the power away from councils on high rise developments.

Our DAPs handling of the Goodwood Oval phone tower may well prove a litmus test on the minister’s move to take Council out of the development process. How the individual members of the DAP vote will at least.

Will the elected members vote the same as the independent members? Will the elected members be split in their vote? Will the independents be split in their vote? Will the elected members vote one way and the independents vote the opposite way?

Hmmmmm!

Goodwood Oval Vodafone Phone Tower FAQ

The following is a Goodwood Oval Vodafone Phone Tower FAQ list resulting from conversations I have had.

 

I reproduce them now for everyone with an interest in this proposal in an attempt help you all understand the process and further your representation if you have lodged one. The answers are my answers and they are given as my understanding.

 

Is this a council or council inspired proposal?

No. The application is a 3rd party application from Vodafone. Council is not involved

 

Will Council benefit from the Phone Tower?

As the owner of the land on which the tower is proposed to be located it would receive a rental which I understand is calculated by the State Government.

 

How much is that rent?

I would have to confirm this but I believe it is something like $ 5,000 of maybe as high as $ 15,000.

 

Has Council therefore a vested interest in the tower being approved?

For the amounts mentioned above I would hardly think this would constitute a vested interest.

 

Will you be making the decision?

No! Council and its elected members including myself do not adjudicate and cannot adjudicate on development applications.

 

Who will approve or disallow the application?

Council’s Development Assessment Panel (DAP) is empowered to make this decision. This is an independent panel which is constituted under the State Government’s Development Act.

 

If that is the case can Council represent against the proposal?

No. The DAP represents the Council and their decision is binding.

 

Who is on the DAP?

The Panel is made up of 4 independent members and 3 elected members.

 

Can I lobby members of the Panel?

No. Unlike normal Council business which is governed by the Local Government Act development applications are governed by the Development Act. This Act dictates that a member of the panel must

  • Declare a conflict of interest if they engage in conversation with any applicant or representor.
  • And then leave the meeting and not vote on the application.

 

Is it possible that similar proposals could be made by Telstra and Optus for the other phone towers?

I guess it is possible. From a development plan point of view it certainly can. Whether there are other constraints however I do not know.

 

Have I a right of appeal if the Panel approves the application?

As a category 3 application I believe so. Any such appeal will be heard by the ERD Court.

 

Does Vodafone have the same right of appeal if the Panel refuses the application?

The application is for non-complying development. As I understand it this disallows them from appealing.

 

Can I still put in a representation?

No! The time for submitting a representation has already passed.

 

Can I speak at the DAP meeting?

If you have indicated your intention on your written representation, Yes!

 

How long can I speak for?

5 minutes, plus answering any question that panel members may ask you after you have finished with your representation.

 

Is Health a consideration under the Development Plan?

My understanding of the development plan is no. DAP members will be instructed on whether this is a consideration to take into account. Given the conflicting expert opinion on the health impacts of phone towers this would be difficult.

 

Will Council be responsible if it can be proved later that these towers are cancer causing?

I honestly cannot answer that question as I am not a lawyer. I imagine not however if due process has been followed.

 

Why did I not receive a letter as others did?

In developments that are classified as category 2 applications letters are sent to the immediate neighbours and to every property on the other side of the road within 60 metres of the property being redeveloped.

Category 3 applications allow for a wider representation but the means of advising is by way of public notices in the paper.

If you fell outside the cat 2 area you would not have received a letter.

This is precisely why I posted a blog on my web site on 1 August and why I alerted the author of the Goodwood Oval website.

 

When will the DAP meet and will I be informed?

I asked this same question of our Manager of Planning a couple of weeks ago and it was expected the meeting would be held in October. The planning staff need time to collate all the representations and confer with the applicant over the representations received before preparing a report and recommendations to the panel.

I expect representors who have asked to speak will be advised of the meeting date. I will post a blog when I know the date of the meeting.

If you have an interest please keep in touch with my website and/or my Facebook page.

 

 

Vodafone Tower proposed for Goodwood Oval attracts significant public reaction from locals.

The Vodafone Tower proposed for Goodwood Oval has attracted significant public reaction from locals and the DAP meeting where it will be considered promises to be well attended and keenly observed.

 

119 Representations have been received by Council on the Vodafone Tower proposed for Goodwood Oval. This exceeds by the proverbial mile the number of representations received on any other development application during my 4 years as a member of Council’s previous Development Assessment Panels (DAP).

The number of representors wishing to be heard at the DAP is so large that I understand that this application will be the only one addressed at the meeting when it is called.  The meeting I expect will be held sometime in October but I guess it is possible (given it will be the only item addressed on the night) that it may be sooner.

As soon as I am aware of the date, time and venue for the meeting I will advise you in this platform. Those who have made representation and have indicated their intention to speak will be advised by Council.

The DAP is charged with making the decision on behalf of Council. Council (as in the elected member body) do not get a vote on the proposal.

It is a panel constituted under the State Government’s Development Act and is responsible to adjudicate the application strictly against Council’s Development Plan. It consists of 4 independent members with experience in planning matters and 3 of our elected members including Jennie my co-councillor Jennie.

Panel members are not permitted to discuss the proposal with anyone failing which they would have to declare a conflict of interest under the Act and remove themselves from the Panel. This is why I indicated in my first blogpost on this topic back on August 1 that you should refrain from speaking to Jennie.

A number of questions have arisen in the last couple of days about the Vodafone Tower proposed for Goodwood Oval and I will attempt in a separate blog post later tonight to answer as many as I can.