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I am posting this separately from the full Report from the Gallery because of the Public Meeting about the Marrickville Metro expansion tonight. The following is my understanding of the discussion & all mistakes are mine.

The Public Meeting is to be held at tonight Wednesday 21st July 2010 at 7pm at St Peters Town Hall, 39 Unwins Bridge Road Sydenham.

Click on the following link for more details – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/public-meeting-regarding-marrickville-metro-expansion/

Request for extension of time for community submissions concerning the DA for Marrickville Metro expansion – 2 residents spoke asking that instead of the usual 30 days given for submissions, that this be extended to at least 60 days. They said AMP has had masses of time to get themselves organized & that most of the nearby residents are not aware of the planned expansion.  They said there is not much information about the expansion on the Marrickville Metro website, that supposed door-knocking & letter drops by Elton Consulting to the residents has not been successful in that most don’t know what is happening. They also spoke about current problems of traffic, 4am deliveries & maintenance, staff parking in the streets & noise.

Clr Hanna put up the motion to have the consultation period extended to 60 days.  He spoke about being blocked for 15 minutes while a Woolworths truck was doing deliveries. He said none of the residents know what is happening & there are a lot of complaints about Metro as it is currently. He said to make it double the size & buy the street is going to create major problems & asked where the 700 new staff are expected to park.

This is a seriously big Fig with a girth of many metres. It stands near the front entrance of Marrickville Metro on Victoria Road.

Clr Phillips put up an amendment that Council is to write to the Minister to hand the assessment of the DA back to Marrickville Council. He said the expanded Metro would be a disaster, that it would hurt our shopping strips & cause problems with parking.  He said AMP want a privatized space where there is no infrastructure & the process allows a limited scope for consultation.

Clr Thanos supported the 60 day consultation period. He said the planning process has been the most disgraceful process he has come across & it looks like a deal has been made with the state government with AMP as the beneficiary.  Mayor Iskandar said Council was preparing everything to oppose the expansion & the shopping strips will suffer, but the law is as it is. He said we will fight the process together, but shouldn’t raise false hopes.

Clr Marcri said parking does not exist for local shopping strips so people drive on to Metro & the shopping strips cannot compete with this.  He also said the local streets near Metro have been earmarked as parking for the new Enmore pool & that if Metro expands, there will be a huge gridlock further out & residents will suffer. Clr Byrne said if the Metro DA is passed, the state government Department of Planning will not be following fundamental planning processes as Council has been told they cannot change the zoning in this area.  Carried unanimously.

What I did notice was that no-one mentioned the many, many trees that will need to be removed if the expansion goes ahead.

The community now will have 60 days to put submissions in regarding the Marrickville Metro expansion & they will do this with the knowledge that all Councillors oppose the expansion.  Hallelujah!   Hope to see you there tonight.

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This week’s Council meeting was the Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting. The following is how I understood the meeting. I have not included items that did not attract full debate. Any mistakes are mine.

1. Local Traffic Committee Advisory Meeting:

Old RSL site Illawarra Road Marrickville. The Traffic Committee recommended the DA “be supported in its present form, given that there are no significant adverse impacts on traffic or parking.” The DA proposes 180 residential units with 171 parking spaces

Now empty Marrickville RSL building on Illawarra Road looking down Byrnes Road

for residents, visitors & shoppers. The developer amended the DA removing the supermarket, using smaller trucks & moving the loading bay to Byrnes Street.

A resident who spoke against the report said she has collected 1,114 signatures against the DA from the local community who are concerned with the bulk, height & scale of the development & believe it will bring significant traffic onto already congested Illawarra Road.  She said Council was underestimating traffic movement in & out of the development & living next to railway stations did not mean people didn’t own cars. She spoke about the current parking difficulties saying many patrons of the previous RSL either walked or came by courtesy bus or taxis.

Clr O’Sullivan put up an alternative motion: that the Councillors note that the Traffic Committee believes there will be no problems with parking, but the Councillors advise the JRPP Secretariat of residents’ concerns regarding the validity of traffic projections contained in the applicants traffic study & request that any consent conditions have minimal or no impact on surrounding streets.

Clr O’Sullivan expressed concern about traffic saying Councillors are dependent on our Officers as Secretariat of JRPP to determine a sensitive, future-orientated response to the DA & talking about traffic is different from experiencing it.

Clr Thanos opposed the amended motion saying that it didn’t achieve anything because Council staff had assessed the traffic impact & believed there will be no traffic impacts & the motion was misleading to Council staff, residents & JRPP.  He asked whether the motion was asking staff to change their minds & felt the JRPP will ignore a motion like this.   He spoke about providing housing around transport nodes saying no one owns parking spaces on public streets & the number of cars people choose to own is their decision.

Fire Wheel flowers

Clr Olive said he agreed with a lot of what Clr Thanos said, but he also thought there were valid points in the amended motion & would be supporting it.  He said even though staff have made recommendations, this doesn’t mean we can’t make things better.  He spoke about looking at traffic minimalisation by placement of driveways, entrances, sizes of entrances as examples & thought the report was coming from the position of looking at the previous DA.  He said Councillors should be expressing the community’s concerns so the JRPP can look at the issue closely.

Clr Phillips supported the amended motion saying it highlights the problem of the JRPP being the decision maker instead of Councils & it’s important for Councillors to voice their concerns.  He was not convinced there will be no impact on traffic & reminded that there will be further development in this area.

Clr Peters reminded everyone that the JRPP just approved a development at the Newtown RSL site that is to be a 66-room hotel, RSL Club, retail with only 17 parking spaces.

Clr O’Sullivan said that her motion was minimalist in that it only takes into account the traffic &, though she agreed with much of what Clr Thanos said, she said Councillors were representing the community’s interest for both the short & long term. She said the JRPP took heed of community concerns regarding the Tempe Depot development.  Carried with Clr Thanos against.

– Mobility Parking spaces – One was approved in Terminus St Petersham & another rejected in Lymerston St Tempe because there was a space within 10 metres of the property.  Clr Thanos said that every time someone wants a parking space, they claim disability. He said if it were important to the resident, they would have come to speak at the meeting.  The Director recommended that the refusals be referred back to the Traffic Committee following proper procedure to prevent any appeal. Carried with Clrs Thanos & Peters against.

2. Report on Marrickville Transport Planning & Advisory Committee 20 May 2010 – Clr Tsardoulias said he had questions regarding the position of stops on the Light Rail.  Clr Byrne said she was disappointed Railcorp is not providing a public toilet in the ‘unpaid’ area of Newtown Railway Station & hoped they would drop the access fee regarding airport access as this will increase use of public transport to the airport.  Clr Thanos said he thought the access fee would not be dropped, mentioning that Airport Services use Council’s parking spaces at Tempe for their own employees. Carried.

3. Council Infrastructure for investment for Healthy, Safe & Happy Children’s Home/School Journeys – Council surveyed schools & families regarding the pedestrian routes used to travel to school seeking to learn about obstacles/problems that made this difficult or unsafe with the aim to create child-friendly routes.

Clr Byrne was unhappy that Tempe High School, Tempe Primary School & St Peters Public School were not included in the survey.  Clr Olive agreed with the direction of the report, but wanted it noted that Council was not proposing an increase in the budget for this.  He said people were expressing excitement about what they thought would happen, but in reality Council won’t be able to do much in the next 10 years.  He gave the cost of a traffic light at $120,000 as an example. He said he was not against increasing the budget for this.  Motion carried.

4. Floodplain Management Advisory Committee Meeting report April 2010 – recommending the report be adopted, especially the Eastern Channel Flood Study.   Clr O’Sullivan mentioned the substantial risk of flooding in Marrickville & St Peters industrial areas.  Clr Phillips mentioned climate change & extreme rain events citing Kogarah coast & Mackey Park deemed at risk.  He said the science around climate change is changing rapidly with scientists thinking there will be a sea rise of 1-2 metres this century so did not want to see this study predicated on a ½ metre sea rise.

Clr Olive asked how much it was going to cost & whether Council would be approaching the state & federal governments for money.  The Director said he did not know at this stage.  Carried unanimously.

5. Membership of Wollongong City Council of Westpool & United Independent Pools – public liability, professional indemnity, personal accident, motor vehicle, property & travel insurance.

Clr Phillips expressed concern admitting a Council into an insurance scheme that doesn’t have a good track record.  A staff member advised extensive due diligence was undertaken by 3 Pools leading up to Wollongong Council requesting to join & all 3 Pools were concerned about Wollongong Council’s application, especially around professional indemnity insurance. The only exposure Marrickville Council will have concerns motor vehicles & property. Clr Phillips was happy with this. Carried unanimously.

6. Council investments at 30 April 2010, Changes to Code of Meeting Practice, Update on status of petitions & Status update, Councillor Conferences, Outstanding Reports, Action Arising from Notice of Motions & Mayoral Minutes were dealt with together.

Gum flowers

Clr Peters asked about the workshops & expert external input regarding Marrickville Council’s Urban Forest Program & whether it was still Council’s intention to provide this to Councillors.  The Director said Councillors would have a conference at the end of June & a draft is ready to put to Council. Clr Phillips said she recalled a motion by Clr O’Sullivan last February that Councillors would be given education workshops & external input regarding  tree management & now we will be getting the plan without the workshops.  The Director said Council can do this.  All items carried.

I remember discussion previously was to provide Councillors with training workshop about the issues surrounding greening the LGA. The emphasis was on getting external experts to provide an alternative view to removing 1,000 trees per year for the next 5 years that was recommended in February 2010.  It appears to me that the Trees Strategy Issues  Paper is being brought back to the Councillors with a new name: The Urban Forest Plan & training for Councillors on this issue is no longer suggested  by staff.

7. Rescission motion by Clr Macri regarding previous decision to put 2 restricted parking spaces on Marrickville Rd Marrickville. Clr Marcri said Councillors did not follow usual procedure, there was no support from the community for the motion & the numbers were against any changes.  He said the issue should have gone through the proper channels back to the Traffic Committee.

Clr Hanna said businesses in Marrickville Road had difficulty keeping staff because of parking fines. He mentioned that some councilors thought the $10 fee for parking in the Frampton St car park was too cheap, whereas Leichhardt Council provides it free. Clr Phillips said the café owner asked for 2 parking spaces, the process was transparent & if there are complaints from the community he would be happy to revisit the issue.  Clr Macri said it was about democracy, that the survey was heavily against any parking restriction, it should have been advertised & taken to the Traffic Committee.  Clrs Macri, Hanna, Tsardoulias & O’Sullivan voted to rescind.  The rescission motion was lost & the meeting concluded.

Next was the Services Committee Meeting.

8. Branch Operational Costs –  Clr Thanos declared a particular interest in libraries saying Council should saving money now to get a new library with many services up & running soon. To do this he believed some libraries in the LGA would need to be closed. Clr Phillips said he wouldn’t support closing libraries, but said there could be a new library at the Marrickville Hospital site when it was developed.  Clr Byrnes was against closing libraries saying they provide many more services to the community than simply book loans. Clr Hanna didn’t support closing libraries yet, but said he would once a new library was built.  Carried.

9.  Review of Major Community Events & Community Cultural Events Programs

gorgeous bark

Motion moved to defer item until Mayor Iskandar returns from his Sister Cities visits  because he has had significant input & should be able to contribute. Clr Thanos supported deferral & said he will be voting against all events in preference for having money for a new library. Clr Olive said he was unhappy that the Cooks River Festival has gone to Canterbury Council & would be arguing for Council’s retention & involvement in this festival.  He said both the Council & the Cooks River Committee’s involvement have been instrumental in good things happening at the Cooks River. Clrs Tsardoulias, Peters, Kontellis against motion to defer. Carried.

Here ends Report from the Gallery for this week.

Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting followed by the Services Committee Meeting.  Councillors Tsardoulias, Iskandar, Thanos, Kontellis were absent.  Clr Hanna left at the conclusion of the first committee’s business due to illness.

A lot happened in these meetings & there was much discussion.  I felt that simplifying the post to shorten its length would not do the Councillors & their arguments justice, so have decided to post in 2 parts. The following is my take on the meeting & any mistakes are mine.

Local Area Traffic Management Scheme:

Item B3 Sydenham Local Traffic.  As I understand the issue, vehicles use Florence & Mary Street Sydenham to travel between Unwins Bridge Road & Princes Hwy.

Wattle about to bloom

9,000 cars & trucks travel through Mary Street per day. 3 residents from Florence & Mary Streets addressed the Councillors, all supporting the scheme that Council was, in part, not recommending.  The residents said 66 signatures were collected from the (almost all) residents of Mary Street asking Council to stop vehicles speeding in Florence & Mary Streets. They said both these streets are dangerous to pedestrians & for people getting in & out of cars.  They cited 50 kph zones in Florence Street & Unwins Bridge Road despite having different uses.  They wanted Florence Street to become 40 kph with at least 1 speed hump & they were prepared to pay for the speed humps if Council couldn’t afford to install them.

Clr O’Sullivan put up a motion to install speed humps in Florence Street & for Council to commit to approach the RTA to make the street 40 km zone. Seconded by Clr Hanna who said he has never witnessed residents saying they will pay for speed humps.  Clr Olive supported the motion saying the residents say they need them & it is an appropriate place to put speed humps. He wanted Council to investigate the feasibility for a raised crossing for the pram ramps.

Clr Macri said this decision may be a ‘trail-blazer’ for other streets. He thought 40 km was quite reasonable for residential streets & said Council should approach the RTA about rezoning speed limits.  He asked staff whether plastic bolted down speed humps were comparable in cost to the ones built onsite. Staff advised the costs are comparable.  Clr Phillips also supported lower speeds in residential streets & asked about the costs associated.  Motion adopted.

Item C3 – parking in Marrickville Road. A café owner in Marrickville Road addressed the Councillors saying that many businesses in the area do not have parking as train commuters park there all day & requested 1 hour parking restrictions in this section of Marrickville Road.

Clr Olive said he was not confident in 1 hour parking just for this area. Clr Peters said she supported 1 hour parking on Marrickville Road citing that commuters park all day free & Council cannot provide free parking.

nice looking planter box

Clr Hanna said he did not want to be put in a position where local business could not keep staff because they were getting parking fines so was against any parking restriction.  Clr Phillips suggested a 6-month trial saying Council received 6 submissions out of the 15 flyers distributed & this was insufficient. He put up an amendment to trial 1 hour parking for 6 months & then review to see if it has worked.  Seconded by Clr Peters.

Clr Wright thought the amendment was okay, but reminded that Council had the idea for just a few spaces with 1 hour parking. Said she would put up a foreshadowed motion later.  Then a staff member advised Clr Phillips’ motion was contrary to the recommendation in the paper. Clr Phillips withdrew his amendment saying he would support Clr Wright’s foreshadowed motion. (Confused yet? I was.)

Clr  Macri said Council only received 6 submissions of which 4 were against changes & he wanted a more thorough community consultation.  Clr Peters said Council was intending to provide parking to business owners in Frampton Avenue.  Chair Clr O’Sullivan called for a vote on the recommendation as it was.  Defeated.

Clr Hanna said that he & Clr Macri were often approached regarding parking issues on Marrickville Road & said it was unfair to do it because 4 out of 6 submissions said they didn’t want restrictions.  Clrs Phillips & Peters said they would support parking restrictions with Clr Peters saying Council was going to provide parking for business owners.  She said we want to provide more turnover in parking for shoppers & Council cannot provide free parking for commuters & business owners.  Carried. (Here I think what was carried was the instigation of 1 hour parking in this area of Marrickville Road).  I wonder how long it will be before metered parking will be introduced in our shopping strips to make money for Marrickville Council. They have proved to be a great revenue maker for Leichhardt Council as an example).

Items Council investments as of 31st March 2010, Status update, petitions & Councillors Access to information All were noted.  Clr Phillips asked staff whether Council were still intending to have consultation with Councillors regarding the Tree Strategy Issues Paper.  The GM said the paper would be put to the general management team in May, then have a series of Councillor conferences with independent experts also being involved.  All carried.  Meeting finished.  Clr Hanna excused himself from the next meeting because of illness.

Local wildlife

The evening opened up with an Extraordinary Council Meeting about our Sister City relationship with the island of Madeira, which was recently struck by flood & landslides killing 42 & injuring 250 people.

Discussion covered recognising the devastating effects of this & other recent natural disasters, Council’s poor financial position, the lack of financial capability to reciprocate to an equal level when representatives from Sister Cities visit Marrickville, the large numbers of Sister Cities we have & whether this should be reduced (imagine, “sorry sister, it’s goodbye”) & developing a policy regarding financial assistance to Sister Cities when Council is having problems financially supporting its own services.

The motion was carried to donate $5,000 from the Sister Cities budget to help with rebuilding the affected area. Mayor Iskandar had the deciding vote.

Then came the Development Assessment Meeting.  One wouldn’t think that DAs are interesting unless they directly concern you, but actually they are.

There were DAs for single block developments, shops & large residential housing.  The gallery was full & some residents waited for 2 hours to speak.  The following is my impressions & thoughts:

People from both sides feel quite passionate & emotional about DAs.  Some were frustrated by the time required for the DA process.

Local residents were concerned about developments they felt would significantly change the streetscape in terms of set-back & visual impact. Height, noise, parking, privacy & loss of light were other issues causing concern.

I have seen these issues raised many times both inside & outside Council meetings.  People who become involved by attending Council meetings, signing petitions or lobbying against certain DAs hold the streetscape of the Inner West in high regard & they want to retain it.  It appears that some people new to the area & developers want to build more modern buildings & this causes a conflict with the other residents.

Given that these developments are being built, I don’t think it will be too many years before the visual outlook of great chunks of Marrickville LGA will be significantly changed.  Unlike Haberfield, which has decreed no modern buildings will be allowed & heritage will be protected at all cost, Marrickville LGA does not seem to have a policy like this.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that if a DA ticks all the boxes, it is up to the councillors as to whether it gets approved.  Naturally, the Councillors have differing perceptions of taste & beliefs as to what constitutes appropriate outlook, as well as what should be knocked down.  Many cherished buildings considered heritage by the Marrickville Heritage Society & other authorities have been demolished over the years.

Last night one developer said the plans for a large  residential development were “unashamedly contemporary,” yet the area this development is situated is one of the most historical in the LGA in terms of housing, other buildings, parks, trees & other historical infrastructure. I see some box-like buildings plonked next to softer, filigree terraces, but I belong to Marrickville Historical Society, so of course I prefer the older buildings.

Only last week Paul Keating said on Lateline, “Well, I can’t teach you good taste” when speaking about the 60 storey glass hotel in red planned for a finger pier at Barangaroo. Interesting that I liked much of the proposed development, but not this particular building.

streetscape

I mention the issue of development & taste because our suburbs are changing.  Marrickville LGA is about to embark on major new development & much of it will be high-rise.  A lot will get through because the state government wants us to have housing for something like another 10,000 people & frankly Marrickville Council desperately needs the money which comes from Section 94 contributions (what the developers pay to Council).

The Councillors need our input either directly or via community lobby groups.  Mayor Iskandar said this in both Marrickville Matters & the Inner West Courier recently.  He also said that the changes coming would affect the community for at least the next 25 years.  If we don’t let the Councillors know what we don’t want, then we will have to accept what the developers give us.

Very soon, a DA for a Backpackers in Addison Road Enmore will come before Council.  This is a 130 plus bed establishment with 7 parking spaces, 2 of them designated Disabled Parking.  Is this of consequence?  Judging by the speakers last night & other recent community action regarding the proposed development on the old Marrickville RSL site, parking is a huge issue in people’s minds.  Council is passing DAs where residents question the parking ratio & sincerely believe parking opportunities will be worse with the new development.

It’s changing times.  Denser living will further impact on parking.  Backpackers often have sufficient funds to buy a car & most residences have at least one car & sometimes more than two.  Council & the government are encouraging public transport use, but living close to a railway station really doesn’t have much of an impact on vehicle ownership yet.  Perhaps later it will when petrol becomes costlier.  For now, there is the problem with a transport system that is already deemed inadequate.  It’s all food for thought.

Moving to trees, a DA at 23 West Street was passed last night.  This site will have 8 double storey modern townhouses built on a block where there are two 9 metre Council protected Canary Island Palm trees & a Fiddle Leafed Fig tree on the boundary of the back property.  Council’s own report stated that Canary Island Palm trees only live for 15-40 years so the development would ‘outlive’ them.  In fact, these trees generally live for 150-160 years, which is an enormous difference.

The Councillors agreed these 2 trees will be relocated to the back of the development, stipulating the root protection zone of the Fig tree will also be protected.  This is a good thing, though I’m sorry we will lose the Palms from the streetscape, which has or is about to lose 31 trees on the opposite side of the street.  Change.

It was good to hear that Palms relocated at Enmore Park for the swimming pool development are doing well.

Another DA passed was 63 Grove Street St Peters which will erect 34 double storey dwellings.  2 mature trees will be removed, yet the landscaping is great.  They intend to plant 10 trees capable of growing to 15 metres, 19 trees reaching 5 metres, 9 trees reaching 7 metres, 10 trees reaching 8 metres & 46 trees reaching 5 metres.  94 trees in total.  They also intend to preserve the current street trees.  I wish all developments planted this percentage of tall growing trees.

One final point of interest is that various sites across Marrickville LGA are considered contaminated, so don’t eat the dirt.  There is some serious toxic stuff around from poor industry practices in the past & dumping.  Like toxins that live on to create problems decades later, we need to think if an upcoming development will also be like that & whether we want to be involved in community consultation to shape our community for the better.

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