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Friday, October 30, 2015

Cost Appeal media release - 2 November

On Monday 2 November, the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association issued the following media release about its Cost campaign.

Community Association makes a desperate bid to survive

Today, the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association officially launches a Cost Appeal to raise $5,500 in legal costs awarded against it in August by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

If the association fails to raise the money, it faces further legal action, which would close it down. The Cost Appeal is a last desperate attempt to stop that happening.

The association had asked VCAT to stop Caltex franchisee Milemaker Petroleum building a service station at the junction of Jetty Road and High Street, Drysdale. Hundreds of residents had objected to the service station, but VCAT dismissed the case, ordering the association to pay Milemaker $5,500 in legal costs by 7 December.

One chance left
“The association has just this one chance to raise the money”, said association Secretary Patrick Hughes. “We asked VCAT not to make us pay Milemaker’s legal costs, supported by local federal MPs Richard Marles and Sarah Henderson, local state MP and Environment Minister Lisa Neville and councillor Rod Macdonald; and an online petition of 349 signatures. Still, VCAT awarded costs against us.”

“We wrote to Milemaker”, he said, “asking it to forgo the costs as a gesture of good will to the local community, as did Lisa Neville. Neither of us has received a reply.”

Association Treasurer Doug Carson said, “Closing the association would end its community-building work. Drysdale is growing rapidly and we’ve lobbied for a bypass for the increased traffic and leisure facilities for the increased population, such as a sports precinct and fishing platform. We also run the popular Festival of Glass.”

Contribute to the Cost Appeal
·      Online. Our account at Bendigo Bank: BSB 633000, Acc 1497-62791, Ref MM.
·      By mail. DCSCA, P.O. Box 581, Drysdale 3222. Please mark envelope “MM”.
·      In person (i). At SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre, Drysdale High Street.
·      In person (ii) Join the association just $5, payable online or by mail (see above).
Please include your email or address with your donation; if Milemaker belatedly waives the legal costs, the association intends to return all contributions

Doug Carson, Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association: 0418 371 308
Patrick Hughes, Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association 5251 3394
For background, see DCSCA’s blog: http//

Thursday, October 22, 2015

DCSCA lauches a Costs Appeal at its AGM

The Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association held its 2015 Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 21 October at the SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre in High Street, Drysdale.

Around thirty people attended the meeting, which started with an illustrated talk by Ralph Roob
Foreshore, Clifton Springs
about the work being done to stabilise and upgrade the foreshore around Drysdale and Clifton Springs. Ralph is the Senior Environmental Engineer at the City of Greater Geelong, which owns most of the local foreshore. He described how boulders, rocks and sand are being used in different ways to combat erosion of the cliffs and beaches of the area and to stablise The Dell; and how a new causeway will reach out from the boat harbour and act as the long-awaited fishing platform.

Several members of the audience asked questions about the works being done and about the future of the foreshore, based clearly on their own experiences of walking, boating or fishing there.

In his responses, Ralph invited people to join the Clifton Springs & Curlewis Coastcare Group - a volunteer-based 'friends of the foreshore'-type group of people who want to see the area looked after.  The group will form at meeting at 6.00pm on Wednesday 18th November at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre in High Street, Drysdale.

The AGM's formal business
After thanks to Ralph and a short break, the formal business of the AGM was conducted. The Minutes of the 2014 AGM were approved, DCSCA's audited accounts for 2014-2015 were accepted and DCSCA President Rick Paradise gave his Report on the year's activities. Then, the meeting adopted a new Constitution and agreed to raise membership fees from $5 to $10 from July 2016.

The next item on the Agenda was the election of a Committee to run the Association for the next year. The results were:
President: Rick Paradise; Vice-President: Anne Brackley; Treasurer: Doug Carson; Secretary: Patrick Hughes. Committee members: Sarah Carroll, Neil McGuinness, Bob Penfold and Mike Windsor.

It was agreed that DCSCA would hold its 2016 Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 19th October at 7.00pm at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre, Drysdale High Street.

Launch of DCSCA's Cost Appeal
The final item on the AGM agenda was the launch of DCSCA's Cost Appeal. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) has ordered DCSCA to pay Caltex franchisee Milemaker Petroleum $5,500 in legal costs by 7th December 2015. If DCSCA doesn’t pay the bill, it faces further legal action, which would close it down.

DCSCA accepts VCAT’s ruling and intends to pay the $5,500, but it doesn’t have the funds.  The Association has launched a Cost Appeal to raise the money and is inviting members, friends and supporters to contribute to it.

Why is a Cost Appeal necessary?
Milemaker Petroleum is building a service station at the junction of Jetty Road and High Street, Drysdale, having received planning permission by the City of Greater Geelong council. DCSCA asked VCAT to overturn Milemaker’s planning permission for two reasons:
1.     The council had ignored widespread local opposition to a service station at that location, which is a ‘Rural Living’ zone. Prior to the VCAT hearing in May 2015, more than 400 people signed a DCSCA petition opposing a service station at that location.
2.     Planning permission for a service station at that location was inconsistent with the council’s refusal of planning permission for a child care centre in the same Rural Living zone, on the grounds that a commercial development there would be inappropriate.

The chair of the VCAT hearing rejected DCSCA’s application and invited Milemaker to apply for costs. DCSCA’s request to VCAT not to award legal costs against it received widespread support from each level of government: local federal MPs Richard Marles and Sarah Henderson, local state MP and Environment Minister Lisa Neville and local councillor Rod Macdonald. Support also came from several local community groups; and an online petition gathered 349 signatures. Nonetheless, VCAT ordered DCSCA to pay Milemaker $5,500 in legal costs.

DCSCA and Lisa Neville (local state MP and Environment Minister) wrote separately to Milemaker, asking the company to waive the $5,500 as a gesture of good will to the local community. Neither has received a reply.

Online. DCSCA's account at Bendigo Bank. Please go to DCSCA's account is BSB 633000, Acc. 1497 62791. Please put "MM" in the 'Reference' line.

By mail. DCSCA, P.O. Box 581, Drysdale 3222. Plese put "MM" on the envelope.

In person (i). There is a collection box in the SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre, Drysdale High Street.

 In person (ii). Become a member of DCSCA. The annual membership fee is just $5 until July 2016; and this can be paid online or by mail (see above)

Please include your name and e-mail or postal address with your contribution; if Milemaker belatedly agrees to waive the legal costs, DCSCA will return all donations and pledges - with a sigh of relief!

Monday, October 12, 2015

DCSCA's Big Night Out!

The Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) will hold its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 21 October at 7.00pm at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre, 17-21 High Street, Drysdale 3222.

DCSCA's AGM is its most important event of the year. It's where the DCSCA Committee tells DCSCA members about its work in the past year and invites their responses.

Progress on the foreshore
DCSCA's 2015 AGM will feature Ralph Roob, Senior Environmental Engineer at the City of Greater Geelong's Environment & Natural Resources Department. Ralph has been in charge of the extensive work being done to the Clifton Springs Foreshore and he will update us on progress and plans. Ralph has conscientiously kept DCSCA informed about progress throughout this major project and he's a good speaker, so we're looking forward to his presentation.

The DCSCA Committee

DCSCA's AGM is also when DCSCA members elect a new Committee to run the association for the next year. The Committee consists of four officers (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary/Public Officer) and ten members.

At its monthly meetings, the DCSCA Committee discusses and responds to local events and issues. The committee represents local views on local planning and development matters; and It also initiates events, including the annual Dell Environment Day (16 October), the annual Clean Up Australia Day and the annual Festival of Glass (February).

DCSCA meets Cllr. John Doull (5)

On 12 May, DCSCA Committee members met Councillor John Doull at City Hall. This was the fifth of the quarterly meetings that DCSCA has initiated with the two City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) Councillors whose wards coincide with DCSCA's area - the other is Councillor Rod Macdonald.
It was a very busy and productive meeting!

Roadside council notice boards
First, we raised the issue of the lack of roadside council 'welcome/what's on' notice boards on which to advertise events in our towns. These can be seen in towns elsewhere on the Bellarine, but not in ours. Cllr. Doull said that money was available for this from last year's budget and that he would talk to Cllr. Macdonald about each of them funding signs in their respective wards.

A swimming pool in Drysdale & Clifton SpringsWe said that there is clear - and growing - demand for a swimming pool in Drysdale & Clifton Springs, not least because the Ocean Grove pool is over-subscribed. However, there are no plans for a pool in the regional sports/recreation 'hub' at the junction of Andersons Road and Grubb Road in Drysdale. We suggested out that this is an issue facing people not just in Drysdale & Clifton Springs but along the North Bellarine, especially because of the uncertain future of the pool in Portarlington. We emphasised that although the council has no plans for a opool and despite council officers saying that the case for providing one was weak, DCSCA would persist in raising the matter, because of the strong local feeling about it. Cllr. Doull promised to raise the matter with Mr. Dean Frost (CoGG's Manager of Projects, Recreation & Central Gelong) and to invite him to talk about it at our next quarterly meeting.

Local economic development
DCSCA is suggesting that CoGG builds on the success of the 2011 Festival of Glass and uses the build-up to the 2012 Festival to announce a local business support program (e.g. advice and mentoring, assistance to explore new markets, rates relief) for small art and craft business on the Bellarine. That program could link with the 'Made in Geelong' initiative, which offers small businesses short-term leases on empty shops in central Geelong, enabling small art and craft businesses on the Bellarine - individually or in partnerships - to test their economic viability in a town center. We invited Cllr. Doull to support the proposal and he said that he would discuss it with Mr. Terry Demeo (CoGG's Manager of Planning Strategy and Economic Development), Ms. Kaz Paton (CoGG's Manager of Arts and Culture) and Mr. Steve Bentley (CoGG's Manager of Events, Central Geelong & Waterfront) and get back to us.

Then, we outlined DCSCA's argument that CoGG should build on the growing local concern about rising sea levels to develop the Bellarine Peninsula as a demonstration of a post-carbon economy. Cllr. Doull outlined Future Proofing Geelong - a strategy to develop Geelong in enironmentally sustainable ways - that includes a plan for low-carbon growth. (Future Proofing Geelong is launched today, May 12 2011.) Future Proofing Geelong is to have three 'reference groups' - 'Major Enterprises', 'Small & Medium Enterprises' and 'Community'. Major enterprises in Geelong have been involved in developing Future Proofing Geelong and the other two reference groups will be established in June 2011. Cllr. Doull suggested that we contact Ms Samantha Smith (CoGG's Co-ordinator, Future Proofing Geelong) to ask about becoming involved in the 'Community' reference group. Finally, we suggested that Geelong could use its role as host of the forthcoming Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia conference to showcase some initiatives around local business support and a post-carbon economy. Cllr. Doull said that he would outline Future Proofing Geelong to that conference and that as Cllr. Rod Macdonald was leading preparations for the conference, we should approach him about our possible involvement.

Site-specific issues
Next, we discussed a series of issues specific to particular areas in our towns. We discussed the uncertainty around whether there would be an official 'launch' at The Dell of the new signage and the new lookout and we said that we would investigate further. Cllr. Doull suggested that we ask Mr. Mark Gallon (CoGG's Manager of Strategic Projects) about the possibility of releasing potable mineral springs water at The Dell by targeted drilling, associated with building another groin to protect the foreshore.

This led to a discussion of the development of a Masterplan for Beacon Point Reserve in Clifton Springs, for which $20,000 has been allocated in the council's 2011/12 budget. Cllr. Doull said that he wanted to see the area kept as a 'wild' place, identified clearly as a Reserve, with the addition of maybe a toilet block, a community meeting place and, perhaps, some appropriate sculpture. We said that DCSCA welcomed the proposal, which reinforces DCSCA's Open Space Network, which we launched last year to protect our remaining open spaces from development. Beacon Point Reserve is one of the nine open spaces in the Network, which we want to see linked by walking/cycling tracks. As a first step, we are seeking grant funding for a Northern Bike Trail (Drysdale Station, to the town centre, to the Recreation Reserve [Market area], to McLeods Waterholes, to Griggs Creek, to the Bay, to the Boat Ramp, to Drysdale station). Cllr. Doull applauded our initiative, advised us to ensure that major road crossings wouldn't be a problem and said that he would be happy to provide us with a letter of support to use in our fund-raising.

Finally, we raised two issues concerning the Springs Street area of Clifton Springs - another site in DCSCA's Open Space Network. First, CoGG recently employed a contractor to spray systemic weedkiller along the water course, with the result that the banks now feature matted dead vegetation. While this may be acceptable action in a drain, local residents have argued strongly that they regard the 'drain' as a water course, i.e. a potentially attractive feature of the area and DCSCA actively supports their view. Second, a new wall has been built between the Bowling Club and an adjacent property with the aim - as we understand it - 0f protecting that property if the Club's new dam is breached. Between the new dam and the new wall lies the Springs Street land - flood-prone already and apparently in danger of further floods from the Club's new dam. We argued that both the spraying and the new wall were ewvidence that the land is unsuitable for 'development' and should be rezoned - in accordance with local people's wishes - as 'Open Space'. Cllr. Doull said that he would talk to CoGG engineers about both issues and get back to us.

DCSCA's next quarterly meeting with Cllr. Doull will be on Thursday 4 August 2011. Any residents of the Drysdale/Clifton Springs area are welcome to ask DCSCA to raise any issue of concern with Cllr. Doull.

Council budget - a mixed bag

For people in Drysdale & Clifton Springs, the City of Greater Geelong's proposed 2011-12 budget represents a mixed bag.

The budget includes several good news items. It allocates funds to construct the first phase of the Lake Lorne walking track, to develop a Masterplan for a Beacon Point Reserve and to design a Bellarine Lookout. Each of these three sites is in the Open Spaces Network that DCSCA launched last year to protect our towns' dwindling open spaces, so these budget commitments are very welcome.

In the three years since DCSCA first proposed that a walking track be constructed around the perimeter of the Lake Lorne reserve, the original idea has been developed into a major upgrade of the facilities. The development of the original idea has featured extensive and effective consultation with local groups, individuals and organisations and DCSCA looks forward to a similar approach being taken to the development of a Masterplan for a Beacon Point Reserve and to the design of a Bellarine Lookout.

Good news for young people and for the environment
DCSCA is also pleased to see the budget supporting youth activities across the Bellarine, with $15,000 for the Bellarine Youth Action Team and $25,000 for the youth-run annual 'Spudfest' music event. Further good news is the $20,000 allocated to environment projects supported by the Bellarine Catchment Network. The budget also commits funds to a new netball court and lighting at Drysdale Reserve and to the further development of Drysdale's Potato Shed, including a grant of $12,500 to the Potato Shed's annual Family Fun Day.

No news on local economic development
The negative side of the budget is its silence on local economic development. DCSCA was interested to see whether the budget would address the council's continuing failure to plan for the Bellarine's economic development alongside the expansion of its population. DCSCA would like to see a greater diversity of local jobs - especially for young people - so that the expanding population can choose to work on the Bellarine or commute elsewhere.

The budget commits $25,000 to supporting industrial investment and $35,000 to supporting manufacturing, but doesn't specify where it will be spent. Recent history suggests that it won't be spent on the Bellarine. Further, the budget commits $180,00 to the council's sustainability project, Future Proofing Geelong, which includes a plan for low carbon growth in the Geelong region. (Future Proofing Geelong is launched officially today, 12 May 2011.) However, it isn't clear what this will mean in practice. The council refuses to promote a low carbon economy even on the Bellarine, let alone throughout the region.

DCSCA has argued consistently that the Bellarine could become a demonstration site of a low carbon economy, featuring cutting edge technologies and creating new high tech, high wage jobs. This would give the region's rapidly-expanding population real choices over whether they would like to work locally or elsewhere. It would prevent our towns becoming just dormitories for Geelong and Melbourne which, in the absence of good public transport, would mean continuing increases in commuter traffic on already-inadequate roads. Finally, developing the Bellarine as a demonstration site of a low carbon economy would attract visitors keen to 'see tomorrow's economy today', boosting tourism and its associated employment.

A chance to seize the day?
Geelong will host the 2011 Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) conference later this year and the budget includes $35,000 to pay the cost of it. The council could use that conference to showcase Future Proofing Geelong and, in that context, to announce its plans for a low carbon demonstration project on the Bellarine. Local councillors Doull and Macdonald could seize the initiative and ensure that the council applies the same sort of innovative thinking to the economic development of the Bellarine that it so proudly proclaims is being applied to the development of Amstrong Creek. They would certainly have major local support if they did.

Friday, October 9, 2015

School students sustaining The Dell

A hundred Clifton Springs Primary School students will celebrate the natural and cultural history of The Dell at Clifton Springs at an Environment Day on Friday October 16.

The students will join teachers, parents and local community groups in an ongoing project to protect and improve the area and hands-on activities will introduce them to its plants, animals and history.

The Dell Environment Day will also celebrate the launch of a new and innovative booklet about the area - Clifton Springs and Curlewis Coastal Reserves: flora, fauna and heritage.

Four years’ work
The 2015 Environment Day is the culmination of four years’ work by local community groups, environmental groups and schools to protect and enhance the indigenous vegetation of The Dell, Beacon Point and the Clifton Springs foreshore.

The four year project has included:
·      involving the local community - especially primary school students – in protecting and enhancing the area by informing them about its environmental and cultural/historical importance
·      clearing invasive weeds and woody plants
·      revegetating the area with indigenous plants that are local to the area and not found elsewhere on the Bellarine Peninsula
·      creating a plan to protect and enhance the area’s indigenous vegetation.

The Dell Environment Day is organised by the Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association and the Bellarine Catchment Network, supported by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Bellarine Landcare Group and the City of Greater Geelong.

The Federal Government’s Caring For Our Country Community Grants programme has funded The Dell Environment Day and the associated revegetation of the area.

The organisers of The Dell Environment Day are pleased to acknowledge the Wadawurung people, the traditional custodians of the Land that includes The Dell, pay respect to the past and present Elders of the Wadawurung nation and extend that respect to other Indigenous Australians who are present.

Matt Crawley, Bellarine Catchment Network: 0417 231 853
Doug Carson, Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association: 0418 371 308

Thursday, October 8, 2015

DCSCA and the Caltex service station: a summary

On 6th August 2015, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) issued the following order:
" The Drysdale Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) Inc. is ordered to pay the costs of Milemaker Petroleum Pty Ltd fixed in the sum of $5,500. The costs must be paid by 7 December 2015 or such later date as may be agreed by Milemaker Petroleum Pty Ltd."

DCSCA accepts VCAT’s ruling, acknowledges that its application to VCAT to overturn the planning permit was misconceived and no longer opposes the service station.

DCSCA’s application was submitted under section 89 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, because it was lodged more than 21 days after the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) gave Milemaker planning permission for its service station.
DCSCA acknowledges that a Section 89 application faces significant hurdles as it argues that a VCAT Tribunal could or, indeed, should cancel a permit that has already been issued. DCSCA also acknowledges that it failed to satisfy these hurdles.

A new development
DCSCA lodged its application after the due date because of an extraordinary new development. Just eight weeks after CoGG gave Milemaker planning permission to build its service station, the council refused to give Planning Permission for a proposed child care centre in the same Rural Living Zone. The council judged that the proposed child care centre would be inconsistent with seven State Planning Policy Planning Framework clauses and inconsistent with the Drysdale Clifton Springs Structure Plan.

The development gave DCSCA a precedent to add to its arguments against a service station at that location. The publicity arising from CoGG’s inconsistent decisions led to community members providing additional information about the potential environmental dangers of locating hazardous materials (e.g. fuel products) close to the nearby watercourse.

The association came to believe that planning permission for the service station could be challenged on two grounds:

  • the council’s inconsistent planning decisions
  • the new information about potential environmental hazards.
These two new factors added weight to DCSCA’s arguments against a service station at that location, namely:
  • it contradicted parts of the council’s own Structure Plan for Drysdale and Clifton Springs
  • it increased the risk of  traffic accidents, especially to cyclists
  • it increased the chances of traffic congestion at a junction that is already very busy
  • it destroyed the rural ambience that marks-out the entrance to Drysdale.

Meanwhile, evidence of community opposition to a service station at that location was growing. The council had received 47 written objections from residents; and subsequently, more that 400 people signed a petition opposing it. There was growing expectation that the association would, on behalf of the community, ask VCAT to overturn the planning permit for the service station.
Note! Neither the community nor DCSCA opposed a service station as such. Instead they opposed siting a service station at that particular location.

The DCSCA committee decided to lodge an application to VCAT as soon as possible. It did so in good faith, considering that such an action was in line with its Statement of Purposes and not vexatious. While its application was late, it didn’t hinder the progress of the service station. The council gave Milemaker planning permission subject to 27 conditions and DCSCA lodged its application to VCAT a full six months before those 27 conditions were met and the plans finally approved.

 DCSCA goes to VCAT
DCSCA prepared a Statement of Grounds to present to VCAT, detailing the community concerns with a service station at this location.
At the VCAT Directions Hearing, Milemaker Petroleum was represented by senior counsel Mr. Tweedie. The following is an extract from VCAT’s ruling:
The essence of the submission on behalf of the permit holder was that an incorporated association could almost never demonstrate substantial disadvantage in a planning proceeding such as this, for example, it didn’t own any land could be impacted and the association (as distinct from its members) would not be personally affected. Mr Tweedie depicted the interest of this association as akin to an ‘intellectual’ one.

A subsequent article in The Age implies that DCSCA had prior knowledge of this argument: “The group had also been warned in an earlier ruling on the project that its case was extremely weak.” In fact, there was no earlier ruling. The first that the association’s representatives knew of this legal argument was when they were given documents detailing it inside the hearing room. Prior to the hearing, Milemaker’s lawyers had submitted a 127-page document that contained only evidence that DCSCA did not dispute – it did not contain Mr. Tweedie’s argument.

Had DCSCA been presented with this legal argument prior to the hearing, the committee would have had the opportunity to withdraw and would almost certainly have done so. The association’s representatives had come to the hearing prepared to express the community’s concerns about a service station at that location, whereas the Directions Hearing was concerned mainly with DCSCA’s legal position – a situation for which the Association’s representatives were totally unprepared and the committee as a whole was not aware of until after the hearing.

When VCAT invited Milemaker to apply for its legal costs, several prominent people wrote to VCAT asking it not to award costs against DCSCA: local federal MPs Richard Marles and Sarah Henderson, local state MP Lisa Neville and local councilor Rod Macdonald. They were joined by several individuals and groups in the community, including Bike Safe and the Bellarine Catchment Network.

After the VCAT hearing
Martin Pakula (Victorian Attorney-General) has suggested that while Milemaker Petroleum now had the right to recover costs from the Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association, "it could decide not to. I would encourage the respondent to consider its relationship with the local community in making that decision."
Lisa Neville (Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water; Member for Bellarine) expressed a similar view in a statement in the State Parliament and has sent a letter to Milemaker Petroleum asking them to waive the legal costs of $5,500 as a show of goodwill to the community of Drysdale and Clifton Springs.

Finally ...
DCSCA welcomes the news that the State Government is changing the planning legislation to require VCAT to take account not just of the views of people who would be ‘immediately affected’ by a planning decision, but also of the views of the local community. This will not change DCSCA’s case as the proposal will become law at some time in the future. However, it will enable community groups to object to a planning decision without having to demonstrate how they will be ‘materially affected’.

The DCSCA Committee         6/9/2015