SOME light may be shed on the sale of the Willow Court oval when a special council meeting is held on Monday night. The meeting will consider a planning scheme amendment "to allow for future development of the oval space adjacent to George St, New Norfolk".
This special meeting has been called by the mayor and general manager, despite the council deciding (just last week) to defer consideration of the planning scheme amendment until after a workshop had been held with the council's planning officer. The need for urgency has not been explained.
At last week's council meeting, several councillors including myself expressed their concern with the proposed planning scheme amendment.
From my own point of view, I was surprised that councillors had not previously been informed that a subdivision had been approved by delegated authority, enabling the oval to be excised from the buildings nearby. The general manager explained that as there had been only one representation received when the subdivision proposal was advertised, a decision of council was not required.
I also expressed my concern that councillors had not been advised that a consultant had been engaged to prepare the draft planning scheme amendment. It is not a councillor’s role to micro-manage, but items such as these, particularly when they refer to Willow Court and the expenditure of ratepayers funds, should be brought before a council meeting.
In response to questions I was then advised that the consultant's report had cost about $2500 and would be paid for by the council - meaning you, the ratepayer. It would seem to me that this expense has been incurred for the benefit of the proposed purchaser of the oval and I do not support that.
I also note that the consultant’s opinion is that the subdivision approved by delegation “provides for the subdivision of the land up to a total of seven lots”. I did not vote for the sale of the oval and I doubt that those who did believed the land was to be further divided into smaller lots.
Come along to the special council meeting at 6.30pm this Monday, November 28, and hear about it for yourself. The meeting will be held in the New Norfolk Courthouse. Unfortunately the Local Government Act does not permit public questions to be asked at special meetings.
* A reminder that the monthly councillor workshop will be held at 6.30pm this Thursday, December 1, in the council social rooms. Salvage and recycling at the Peppermint Hill tip site will be one of the topics for discussion. The public is welcome to take part in the workshop.