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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Council dismisses environmental and economic objections to service station

Objectors to a proposed service station in a 'Rural Living' zone in Drysdale have been told that their concerns that the proposal threatens the local environment and local economy are irrelevant.

Their concerns were dismissed by City of Greater Geelong planner Grant Logan, who chaired a council-convened discussion on 12 March about Caltex franchisee Milemaker Petroleum's application for planning permission for a new service station on land between the southern ends of Portarlington Road and Jetty Road.

Industry in a rural setting? No problem!
Many objectors said that if the council approved Milemaker's application, this would introduce an industrial development into a Rural Living Zone; and that this would reduce still further the vestiges of open space and greenery left over from the major housing developments in the area. In reply, Grant Logan said that certain types of 'discretionary' development were allowed in a Rural Living Zone and that a service station came under that category. Consequently, objections that a service station is inappropriate in a Rural Living Zone were simply wrong in legal terms.

Local economy? Not our concern!
Objectors were also concerned at the likely effect on the local economy of three or even four service stations, especially when the long-promised Drysdale bypass takes through traffic away from Drysdale High Street. They questioned the 'need' for a third service station in the area and said that Milemaker's application includes no statistical data to justify another service station, especially one that would be a few hundred metres from the two existing ones - one of which is Caltex owned. Further, an application is likely for a service station at the Woolworths-led shopping centre in the new Curlewis estate, bringing the local total to four.  Objectors were concerned that an over-supply of service stations in the area could reduce profitability for all of them or even force one out of business. Either result would be bad for the local economy. In reply, Grant Logan said that economic considerations such as these were irrelevant to decisions on applications for planning permits.

Public participation? We sent them letters!
Many objectors mentioned the very poor publicity and short notice of the application. The official A4 notices pinned to the fence line of the property were taken down a day earlier than they should; and even while they wewre there, they were barely visible. (See 'Council restricts public comment on proposed new service station in Drysdale' on this blog [January 29 2014].) This lack of concern about public participation was reinforced when objectors to the application received an invitation from the council to discussion their concerns with 'the applicant' - no-one from Milemaker attended the discussion. Instead, there was a representative from Contour Consultants Australia p/l, which had submitted the application on Milemaker's behalf. Further, the invitation asked people to contact Grant Logan for any more information - but Mr. Logan was on leave until the day before the discussion.


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