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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Could "Greening my Geelong" mean destroying threatened species?

The City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) is currently considering an application to destroy a roadside run of native trees that includes members of a threatened species.

The trees are on the eastern side of Grubb Road opposite the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve and the application to destroy them is associated with the construction of the new Kingston estate.

More information about the proposal is available from Ms Bree Lord, Statutory Planning Department, City of Greater Geelong (statplanning@geelongcity.vic.gov.au).

Opposition online
The application has aroused widespread opposition, including an online petition (via change.org) asking Geelong council to retain the trees in Grubb Road. Organisers of the petition hope to gather 1,000 signatures and by 18 August 2016 have gathered 812.

The petition is titled, "Geelong City Council: Stop developers tearing down native trees in Ocean Grove". You can read more and sign the petition here:
https://www.change.org/p/geelong-city-council-stop-developers-tearing-down-native-trees-in-ocean-grove?recruiter=586100525&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

Opposition in person
If you wish to comment on the proposal, you might like to use DCSCA's objection (see below) as a starting point for your own. Indeed, you might like to just copy DCSCA's objection and submit it under your own name, although personal touches always strengthen objections. If you submit an objection, could you please send a copy to DCSCA (dryclift@bigpond.com), so that we can keep a count.

DCSCA's position

The Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association Inc. (DCSCA) objects to this application which, if granted, would lead to the destruction of a significant number of native trees on the eastern side of Grubb Road. Our reasons for objecting are presented below.

1.         Loss of general amenity. Destroying these trees will completely change the character of this entrance to Ocean Grove. The trees are covered by a Significant Vegetation Overlay, because they form a striking entrance to Ocean Grove, enhancing the town’s character and attractiveness and screening an industrial area; destroying these trees would reduce the area from an attractive, semi-rural vista to just another suburban streetscape. However, if the trees were retained, they would actively contribute to the general amenity of the new housing estate.

2.         Loss of amenity at the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve (OGNR). Destroying these trees will isolate the OGNR as an island of indigenous vegetation; and the large car park, together with the road itself, will form a large asphalted zone near the OGNR. This will seriously reduce the amenity of the eastern section of the OGNR, replacing the current view of paddocks and roadside vegetation with a bleak view of a car park. However, if the trees were retained, they would actively improve the area, breaking up and ‘softening’ the view from the OGNR to the new housing estate.

3.         Reduction in environmental health. Geelong council promotes itself with the slogan “Greening my Geelong”, but is considering an application to destroy examples of a threatened species! Many of the trees are Bellarine Yellow Gums (E. leucoxylon ssp bellarinensis), which is listed as a threatened species; and the other large trees are Swamp Gums (E. ovata). Both contribute to the environmental health of the area by providing habitats for many species of birds, invertebrates and small reptiles. These trees effectively act as ‘spillovers’ from the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve, extending its effects without extending its boundaries.

4.         Inadequate justification. The applicant argues that destroying the trees will make way for extra access points onto Grubb Road, as well as the main intersection between Grubb Road and Coastal Boulevard; but gives no clear reasons for creating these extra access points. The aim of destroying all the trees on the eastern side of Grubb Road appears to be to enable the Kingston Estate shopping centre to be built before Grubb Road is widened. However, there is no urgent need for shops to service the estate, given its proximity to the large shopping centre of Ocean Grove.

5.         Undermining the council’s Revised Ocean Grove Structure Plan. At the very least, a decision on the proposed destruction of the trees in Grubb Road should be deferred until after an appropriate urban design/landscape study, informed by community consultation, is undertaken. We agree with the conclusions of a report published in July 2016 by the City of Greater Geelong’s Planning Panel (Greater Geelong Planning Scheme Amendment C346 Ocean Grove Structure Plan and Town Centre Urban Design Framework):
·      An urban design or landscape study, involving consultation with all stakeholders, is required to determine an appropriate treatment for the entry of the town, integration with the new Grubb Road activity centre as well as the rural interfaces.
·      · Community consultation should identify safety and traffic concerns to be addressed in the planning and design phase of the road project.
 


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Who needs SIX liquor outlets?


Dumburra Avenue Cellars in Dumburra Avenue, Drysdale has asked the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation to grant it a license for a 'packaged liquor outlet'. Granting the license will give the area its sixth liquor outlet.


The Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association Inc. (DCSCA) objects to this application because granting the license would have an adverse impact on the amenity of the area and on the objector.

1. Granting the license would have an adverse impact on the amenity of the area
1.1       Granting the license would reduce the overall amenity of the area significantly. The proposal would increase local traffic (on roads unsuitable for it); it would increase the noise of customers and their vehicles; and the proposed floodlit signage would change the area’s character. Further, liquor outlets are often associated with increased levels of rowdy and anti-social behaviour, reducing the area’s amenity still further.
1.2       Granting the license would exacerbate existing problems with traffic safety. The proposal would increase traffic in the area, but Whitcombes Road - the access road to Dumbarra Avenue - is unsuitable for heavy traffic. Its edges are unsealed and muddy, so increased traffic is likely to threaten pedestrian safety and to create more motor vehicle accidents. Further, the intersection of Whitcombes Road and Portarlington Road is dangerous already, so increased traffic in Whitcombes Road will only increase that danger.
1.3       Granting the license would exacerbate existing problems with parking. Cars are frequently – and inappropriately – parked on the vacant blocks beside the shop site. As these blocks are built on, cars will be forced to park elsewhere in the area. Each completed block will have one or two cars associated with it; and there will probably also be two employees' cars per shop – and that takes no account of customers’ vehicles! The result would be that customers to the bottle shop will have no alternative but to park inappropriately and illegally.
1.4       Granting the license would create new problems with rubbish removal. At present, all rubbish from the shops is collected in bins placed on Whitcombes Road. A bottle shop will increase the amount of rubbish significantly, as packaging is discarded – perhaps responsibly, perhaps just thrown to the ground. The increased volume of rubbish will require trucks to remove it, but the application fails to address the issue of rubbish at all.
1.5       Granting the license would create a sixth liquor outlet in the area. The area is well served by liquor outlets already: a bottle shop in each of the two Woolworths stores, a bottle shop in the Aldi Store, another at the Drysdale Hotel and a fifth in Pinaroo Avenue. Significantly, this license is being considered at a time when Woolworths is phasing out the use of cash in its bottle shops, because of the recent prevalence of robberies in its bottle shops. Granting this license would only increase the likelihood of such robberies in the area.

 
2. Granting the license would have an adverse impact on the amenity of the objector.
This objection comes not from an individual objector but from a collective objector - local residents, represented by DCSCA.
2.1       Granting the license would reduce local residents’ quiet enjoyment of their homes significantly. The proposal would increase local traffic (on roads unsuitable for it); it would increase the noise of customers and their vehicles; and the planned floodlit signage would change the area’s character. Further, liquor outlets are often associated with increased levels of rowdy and anti-social behaviour, reducing residents’ quiet enjoyment of their homes still further.
2.2       Granting the license would expose children daily to materials promoting liquor. Several school buses pick-up and drop-off each day in Whitcombe’s Road, directly opposite the proposed bottle shop. So granting the license would expose children every day to materials promoting liquor, which is clearly inappropriate. There is growing concern among experts on addiction as well as the general public about the ubiquitous nature of liquor promotion, which presents liquor as a normal, routine and risk-free part of everyday life; and concerns are also growing about the decreasing age at which children are experimenting with liquor. Granting this particular license would fly in the face of all those concerns.
 


 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

DCSCA comments on town square proposals

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DCSCA has lodged a substantial submission with the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) concerning its proposals to remodel Drysdale's 'town square', including extending the shopping complex.


CoGG’s proposals are in a glossy booklet, copies of which are available at the CoGG Customer Service Centre. The council held an information session at the Senior Citizens' club on the evening of Wednesday 6 July and has invited public comment on the proposals by July 29th.

In its submission, DCSCA congratulated the City of Greater Geelong for the thoroughness of its consultation exercise and the resources it has expended on it. It asked how the council would respond to the submissions, to demonstrate that the consultation was meaningful; and it asked how much the exercise had cost and whether the council had borne the whole cost.

A summary of DCSCA's 4-page submission follows.

Benefits
The proposals offer several benefits. They could refresh the area, enhancing its attractiveness and utility, reinforcing its role as a focal point of the town and boosting connectivity within the town centre. They could also resolve the current mix of gradients, improving access by cyclists and by pedestrians. A small children’s play area should be considered; parents/carers could watch children from the rotunda.

Problems
There are two problems with the proposals: they involve the sale of part of the ‘own square’ to support the extension of the shopping complex; and they add no more parking spaces to accommodate increased custom in the extended shopping complex. (The current car park has less than the regulation number of spaces; extending the complex without adding car parking will worsen an already bad situation.)

Omissions
There are several omissions from the proposals. These include the future of the rotunda, the library and the customer service centre; the traffic implications of the proposed new offices in Hancock Street; the relations with the forthcoming upgrades to Drysdale High Street; and any consideration of how the proposals could provide an ‘energy dividend’, e.g. by increasing energy efficiency in lighting, heating and cooling systems.

Monday, July 25, 2016

DCSCA drafts a strategy for landfill advisory group

DCSCA is a member of a Community Consultation Group created by the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) to advise it on the management of the Drysdale Landfill site (aka 'the tip'!).

CoGG launched the group at a public meeting in Drysdale on 7 June 2016 and DCSCA intends to be an active member. To that end, it has drafted a Waste Management Strategy, which it intends to present at the Group's next meeting in August.
DCSCA's draft strategy follows.


1.      Aims
Operations at the Drysdale Landfill site should accord with the Barwon Region Waste Management Plan, which should aim to provide the Barwon Region with a best practice Waste Management Plan meeting community expectations; and to promote sustainable built and natural environments.

The Barwon Region Waste Management Plan should meet its aims through four inter-related strategies: minimise the waste dumped at landfill sites; minimise the cost and maximise the convenience of dumping waste at landfill sites; minimise the social, environmental and health-related dangers of illegal dumping of waste; recycle as much as possible of the waste dumped at landfill sites.

Each of those four strategies should have a measurable target and success in meeting each target should be published each year, to promote continuous improvement. E.g.: 70% of customers ‘Satisfied’ or ‘Very Satisfied’ with waste disposal in the region; 10% of litter, odour and run-off from the site.

DCSCA Questions. 1. Does the Barwon Region Waste Management Plan and the Drysdale Landfill site each have its own Objectives Statement? If so .... 2. Can the Consultative Group propose amendments to either Objectives Statement?


2.      Specific objectives
Operations at the Drysdale Landfill site should meet the following objectives:
2.1 Reduce waste. Set annual targets and publishing the results. E. g. phase out single use plastic bottles and plastic bags; teach people a) to reduce the waste they generate and b) to dispose of it selectively into the yellow, green and purple bins; encourage manufacturers a) to reduce their packaging and b) to make their products more easily disposable.
2.2 Re-use waste. Set annual targets and publish the results. E. g. increase the efficiency of material separation and recycling at recycling and waste disposal centres; create a clean site for waste disposal within a 20 mt. drive of each resident of the Barwon Region.
2.3 Recycle waste. Set annual targets and publish the results. E. g. encourage shops to have bins for returning packaging (e.g. bottles, boxes) to manufacturers. Institute an annual award for best performing shop; encourage manufacturers to use the trucks that collect and deliver their goods to shops to carry returned packaging (especially packaging that combines plastic, cardboard and foam) on their return journeys. Institute an annual award for best performing manufacturer. (The manufacturers create the waste, councils and private recycling companies shouldn’t have to clear it up.)
2.4 Generate income from waste to offset costs. Set annual targets and publish the results. E. g. recover precious metals from computers and mobile phones and sell as ‘raw materials’ to local industry to promote the local economy; separate metal, plastic, rubber, paper/cardboard (others?) and sell as 'raw materials' to local industry to promote the local economy; generate power with gases 'harvested' from waste and through high temperature incineration of toxic material; generate wood chips and mulch from 'green waste' and sell to the public.
2.5 Treat waste more efficiently and effectively. Set annual targets and publish the results.
2.6 Dispose of waste more efficiently and effectively. Set annual targets and publish the results. E.g. make disposal easier through providing bins dedicated to product types (e.g., batteries, scrap metal, computers/phones, furniture, beds & bedding); dispose of asbestos separately from general waste; seal it in non-permeable material and burry it in marked sites, to minimise health risks. (At present, asbestos waste is mixed-in with general waste at the tip face.); dispose of paint, chemicals, etc. separately from general waste, to minimise a) health risks and b) illegal dumping.
2.7 Work towards ‘Zero Waste’. Publish progress each year.

DCSCA Questions. 1. What can be done to reduce the cost of a trip to the tip? Illegal dumping is increasing in the Barwon Region, largely due to the high cost and difficulty of a trip to the tip. This could entail a 2 hour round trip, an outlay of over $60, a difficult reversing manoeuver with a trailer and unloading potentially hazardous objects from a trailer. It could also result in a muddy car and trailer.
2. Why is there a charge to dump green waste? Other councils make no charge for green waste. Why does CoGG charge to dump green waste AND mulch and sell it? (A ‘double dip’ at the tip!)

Geelong administrators encourage community engagement

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DCSCA members heard the three administrators of the Greater Geelong City Council outline their ambitions at a community engagement meeting the administrators ran at Parks Hall, Portarlington on 20 July at 5.30pm.
Geelong City Hall

The administrators are acting as the Greater Geelong City Council, which the Victorian government dismissed on 16 April 2016, appointing Yehudi Blacher as interim administrator. The three administrators are Dr. Kathy Alexander (chairperson), Peter Dorling and Laurinda Gardner. They were appointed on 25 May 2016 and will run the council until elections are held in 2017 for a new council. At this meeting, they were accompanied by six senior council officers.

Administrators’ responsibilities
Dr. Alexander outlined the administrators’ responsibilities as follows:
1. To create a ‘citizens jury’ through which the community can have its say on how the City of Greater Geelong should be governed; to report quarterly to the Minister for Local Government on progress and on issues of concern; and to recommend actions to the Minister.
2. To create a thirty year Vision and Strategy for the municipality.
3. To recommend how the City of Greater Geelong should be governed from 2017. The administrators want to involve all parties and interests in these decisions, so they will seek comment from the community, e.g. through more community engagement forums.
4. To design a Community Communication Strategy.

No more piecemeal development
There followed a question and answer session. Most questions concerned issues at Portarlington, but there was also a call for development in/of Drysdale to be more coordinated and inclusive, rather than the piecemeal approach adopted to date. In response, CoGG’s William Tieppo said that Vic Roads would aim to coordinate the various developments; and subsequently, VicRoads and CoGG have created a Project Control Group to co-ordinate the planning and transport matters that link the Drysdale bypass, the improvements to the High Street and the proposals concerning the future of the ‘town square’.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Let's talk rubbish!


DCSCA has been invited to join a Community Consultation Group for the Drysdale Landfill site.

The Group was launched officially at a public meeting on 7 June 2016 at the SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre. The City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) manages the Drysdale Landfill site (aka the Drysdale tip!) and called this public meeting.

People at the meeting agreed that local people should be able to have their say about the landfill site through formal and informal channels – regular meetings of a formal Consultation Group and informal occasions when people can talk to Council staff about waste related issues. Occasionally, guests could be invited to discuss how the Drysdale site fits into broader waste management issues, such as:
·      the Barwon South West Regional Resource Recovery group, which produces a rolling Plan that informs operations at local landfill sites between Portland and Geelong
·      the Regional Waste Forum and its Reference Group.

CoGG manages the site and, as such, will take decisions about it. The role of the Community Consultation Group will be to inform the council’s decisions. It remains to be seen just what influence the Community Consultation Group can have.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thinking long term about local transport

DCSCA Committee members were among the local people who met Shadow Minister for Public Transport David Hodgett on 10 May at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre.

Mr. Hodgett was interested in local opinion on a Bellarine Light Rail service; attendees favoured increased bus services, as they would be more flexible.

DCSCA Treasurer Doug Carson has suggested that a light rail service between Geelong and Drysdale would require huge amounts of infrastructure, including stations (with associated parking), rolling stock, drivers, auxiliary staff and perhaps a new tunnel between Kilgour Street and the Geelong Station.

At first sight, then, improving and extending the current bus network would be a simpler, cheaper and quicker way forward. However, before a final decision is taken, there needs to be research to discover:
·      potential routes for:
a) a Bellarine Light Rail system
b) an extended and improved bus network
·      likely patronage of the likely routes in 5, 20 and 50 years time
·      costs of establishing and running:
a) a Bellarine Light Rail system – probably in stages
b) an extended and improved bus network
·      potential funding sources for the construction and maintenance of:
a) a Bellarine Light Rail system
b) an extended and improved bus network.

Population drives policy
Population levels will determine the area’s transport needs, so any decisions about the area’s transport services must be set against the likely population of the Bellarine Peninsula and, indeed, Geelong as a whole in 5, 20 and 50 years time. Therefore, any plan for transport just on the Bellarine needs to be set in the context of a long-term plan for transport in the area as a whole.

DCSCA Committee member Neil McGuinness has suggested that such a long term transport plan should nor just expand the present transport network but also innovate, including such ideas as:
·      extending the Geelong Ring Road to the Bellarine
·      creating road, rail and ferry connections to Avalon Airport (should these be provided publicly, privately or in some combination?)
·      ferry services in Corio Bay and Port Phillip Bay
·      cycle paths - recreational and commuting
·      a road and rail connection between Queenscliff and Point Nepean.

Better transport for commuters or jobs closer to home?
Whatever the content of a long term transport plan for the area, its major aim shouldn’t be to improve commuting. Instead, it should aim to prevent ever-more people commuting out of the area by creating business and jobs for the expanding population of Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula.

The City of Greater Geelong has actively encouraged the creation of ever more housing estates, home to many thousands of residents, without ensuring that there are jobs to support them. The result is the creation of 'dormitory towns' as an increasing number of people on the Bellarine joining commuters from Geelong on the hours-long commuter trek to and from central Melbourne on roads that were never expected to carry the current levels of traffic.

CoGG's drive to expand the population of the Bellarine must be accompanied by plans to expand and diversify employment. As a rule of thumb, a new job should be created for each house built. That would at least start to match economic growth with population growth; and transport needs would be for easy, fast connections within the Geelong and Bellarine area, as well as between this area and Melbourne.

Earlier articles on this blog have discussed a Bellarine Light Rail service. Search for these dates:
8 October 2011; 13 December 2011; 10 May 2013.