JOE Rossi, a former Korumburra developer, put the performance of the South Gippsland Shire Council’s planning department on the stand at the Commission of Inquiry’s public hearing in the town last week.
He told the commissioners, during an evening session at the Korumburra Secondary College, that he was forced to leave the area after being obstructed by the council and the shire’s planning department.
“It simply takes too long to get approval for anything and what’s worse, they don’t care,” Mr Rossi alleged.
“They don’t follow the rule of law and seem to have a different agenda in the background,” he claimed.
His complaints fit loosely into the scope of the inquiry namely to conduct an examination of “the efficiency and effectiveness of the Council’s governance arrangements in delivering services to its constituents; and any other matters identified by the Commission that have an impact on the Council’s ability to function.”
John McCombe raised the South Gippsland Action Group’s ‘Growth for Rates’ plan under which the council and the shire’s administration would be pro-growth, actively facilitating growth and development rather than allegedly being obstructionist.
Mr McCombe claimed the Growth for Rates policy was part of the council New Direction strategy.
Mayor Cr Don Hill, who attended the commission session as an observer, later agreed.
He acknowledged that, in the Customer Satisfaction Surveys at least, the community was flagging planning as an issue.
He said he didn’t blame planning staff but also expressed a need for improvement.
Why haven’t you tried to do something about it yourself?
“I did,” said Cr Hill.
He later directed us back to the council meeting of Wednesday, October 27, 2017 when he moved a Notice of Motion for the setting up of a planning application review committee of the council which would review all applications and call in applications for a final decision by council that had five or more objections, that were seeking a dwelling in a Farming zone on land under the minimum and others that raised significant policy issues.
But, at the time, the idea was comprehensively voted down down with Councillors Brown, Brunt, Edwards, Argento, Skinner and Kiel against and Councillors McEwen, Hill and Rich in favour.
The Notice of Motion was brought forward at a different time in a completely different context with a Notice of Motion to call in the Trease family’s two-lot subdivision passed at the same meeting and debate about dwellings in the farming zone continuing.
Has there been a realistic attempt by the council to tackle the shire’s planning short-comings? You be the judge.