By Mikayla van Loon
Yarra Ranges Council has approved a planning application for a subdivision in Mount Evelyn, after it was deferred late last year.
The property at 14 East Avenue, that has access points from Centre Avenue and South Avenue, will be subdivided into two lots, each over 4000 square metres.
Although properties along the south side of South Avenue are zoned as Green Wedge A, East Avenue is a low density residential area.
Last heard at the 14 December council meeting, councillors debated the appropriateness of building the proposed house in its position due to a history of flooding and the position of a crossover on Centre Avenue which would require the building of a culvert.
David Schmidtke has lived on Centre Avenue for over 25 years and spoke on behalf of the residents and objectors again at the 22 February meeting.
He raised concerns about the narrow road access particularly for emergency vehicles, the bushfire risk to other properties should the house catch on fire and the water run off.
“It just seems bizarre to have that much land and have a house a couple of metres from a boundary,” he said.
“We’re just really struggling to understand the rationale or what would make the planning department even consider access from Centre Avenue.”
Mr Schmidtke said having spoken to a civil engineer, he understands major works would have to be undertaken to make the road stable enough to carry the trucks required not only to build the house but also to future proof it for fire trucks should a bushfire break out.
The applicant Shelley Starrenburg said working with a consultant, a 10,000 litre static water tank will be installed for the CFA to use in the instance of a fire.
A total of 62 trees will be removed from the site, with 11 needed to facilitate the siting and 51 to contribute to defendable space for the dwelling.
Mayor Jim Child moved an alternative recommendation to approve the motion on the conditions that a crossover had to be built and signed off by an engineer prior to building, that no parking would be available to construction workers on Centre Avenue and more specifications on the carriageway and crossover point.
“This is probably one of the more complex planning applications that we’ve dealt with for some time,” Mayor Child said.
With stakeholder consent, including the CFA, traffic engineers and drainage engineers, Mayor Child said councillors could not deviate from this specific application and that it was about this house being built in this location.
Billanook ward councillor Tim Heenan spoke against the recommendation and said he could not understand the need to have the entrance to the house in the proposed location knowing the condition of the roads currently.
“I just feel the sighting of this particular home up there, and I’m certainly not against having the residential property being built, but I feel we could have done much better coming from the South Avenue area,” Cr Heenan said.
Seconding the motion put forward by Mayor Child, councillor David Eastham said although it is the job of a councillor to represent the community, when it comes to planning applications, it is not their role to go against the planning scheme and provisions.
“It’s not a councillors’ role to decide where a family can build their forever home if the council officers who understand the planning scheme and requirements, if they say it is ok that it can be there then it’s not a councillors role to think they can overturn that,” he said.
Cr Eastham also said in relation to the number of safety issues of the narrow roads, he is pleased a civil engineering program will be in place to perhaps make it safer along Centre Avenue.
The proposed five bedroom, three car garage, two living room, single storey dwelling received the necessary votes from all councillors to approve the application.
Cr Heenan did not support the approval.