In recent months, the City of Greater Geelong has handled local planning issues so inconsistently that Drysdale residents are beginning to doubt the council's even-handedness.
The council has followed local opinion concerning proposals to build a Coles supermarket and a child care centre, but defied large-scale local opposition to a proposed service station.
At its meeting on 21 October, the council considered an application to build a Coles supermarket in
Murradoc Road, Drysdale and agreed to ask state Planning Minister Matthew Guy to appoint an independent Panning
Panel to decide the issue. The officers' report on the application broadly supported it and said that local support for the application showed its merit. (The council had received nine submissions supporting the application and four opposing it.)
On 16 October, the council's Development Hearings Panel had followed local people in rejecting an application to build a 103-place
child care centre in Jetty Road, Drysdale. The site of the
proposed centre is in a Rural Living zone, which aims to conserve an area's landscape, natural resources and heritage. Local opinion - expressed in
fifteen individual submissions and a petition - was that the proposed child care centre was a major commercial development quite inappropriate in a Rural Living zone; and the Panel agreed.
Defying local opinion
In stark contrast to those two decisions, the council's Development Hearings Panel had decided to defy local opinion and accept an application to build a second Caltex service station in High Street, Drysdale. The application is among the most unpopular in recent years, generating 47 objections on environmental, social, economic and amenity grounds.
The Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) was among the objectors and the Panel accepted the application without addressing the many questions of environmental impacts, health and safety that DCSCA - and other objectors had raised. Since the Panel's decision, DCSCA has continued to raise these questions with council officers, but have received no answers of any substance.
DCSCA Secretary Neil McGuinness said, "We can't understand why the service station application was accepted despite generating 47 objections on 26 different issues, including significant traffic safety issues and the presence of hazardous and carcinogenic materials. DCSCA is yet to be assured that the council is taking these issues seriously."