Hopefully 2017 will see a different, more civil council, where councillors vote as individuals and the politics can be set aside. It would also be wonderful if council meetings are finally streamed for all Camden residents to see and hear.
This first meeting may be a guide as to whether we should hold our collective breaths for any of these outcomes.
But for now it is down to the business. While there are some very interesting decisions to be made during this first meeting, none of them seem particularly controversial or have a political overtone. It will require a concerted effort to pick a fight at this meeting.
Let's hope our councillors want to start this meeting in a better manner than the last meeting of 2016 and we have a sensible and civil 2017. Now, to the detail.
The quarry has current approval from the State government until 2019, but this could potentially be extended as it has been in the past. There were some significant noise issues associated with this subdivision and three acoustic reports were brought to council officers – the third was ordered by the Council. It peer reviewed a report by the applicant and an objector to the development.
The final recommendation has been to approve the development but with a number of amendments and the building of a three-metre acoustic wall between the development and the quarry.
This is a complex issue and it will be interesting to see how this is debated in the chambers. It’s actually a great example of why Council meetings should be streamed because residents will only see the outcome of the vote not the discussion that precedes it. For now you will have to rely on the Council Reporters mad note taking to get a sense of how the discussion goes.
The primary concern here is that the subdivision is on flood prone land and with this in mind council officers have recommended refusal. The potential risk to life and the precedent it would set if this subdivision were approved make it likely that councillors will collectively refuse this subdivision.
As a side note it is interesting to note that every block in Araluen Place would be inundated if we had the largest flood possible – known in council officer parlance as a probable maximum flood (PMF). You can see the extent of such a flood to the right.
ORD03: Use of an existing farm building as a depot – 238 Cobbitty Rd, Cobbitty
The zoning for this building makes it a compliant development. However there were a number of complaints relating to the use of the site. These complaints on the whole appear not to understand what is allowed under the current zoning.
Council officers have suggested an 18-month trial period for the depot. Prior to the expiry of this period, the applicant can lodge a DA to have the trial period removed and made permanent.
ORD04: Proposal by NSW Heritage Division to reduce heritage land around Gledswood Homestead to allow for housing development.
Currently any development proposal for this area around Gledswood has to go through NSW Heritage. The proposal is to remove the heritage protection for this parcel (above in green) and allow for developments that comply with Camden Council’s rules to go through the normal approval process.
The NSW Heritage Division has now put the proposal on public exhibition and is taking submissions. The Order of Business is to review the council’s submission in response to the proposal.
The area under the proposal is to the south and west of the homestead. Council officers have no concerns in regards to the area south of the homestead but to the west there is an L-shaped area of land they believe should be kept as a heritage area. This is because development in that area is currently restricted to 7m maximum height because of the heritage restrictions.
Should this fall purely into the realm of council approvals, the maximum height of these buildings would then be able to extend up to 9.5m under Camden Council controls. As a result, council officers have recommended this L-shaped area remains under the control of NSW Heritage, so any development application is viewed in light of heritage issues by the State body.
ORD05: Delegations to the mayor – Christmas New Year period
This is just housekeeping. There was no call on the delegations over this period, so no report is required.
ORD06: Code of Conduct / Statement of Business Ethics
This is the latest small iteration in what appears to be an ongoing State-wide shake-up of council processes, which culminated in the whole amalgamation issue. As you may remember from a meeting last year, in 2017 the State Auditor General will take over auditing councils. As part of this there will be new reporting systems (see ORD01 from this October meeting).
The changes also continue in other areas of council operations. This Order of Business deals with two issues.
- Changes to council codes of conduct after the Act was amended on November 13, 2015.
- The development of a Statement of Business Ethics as recommended by the NSW Office of Local Government and the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Currently the council’s Code of Conduct generally aligns with the model code of conduct, except for some changes we have mentioned before that seemed to make Camden Council’s processes a little less transparent.
The current changes to the Code of Conduct include:
- Councilors who have previously been suspended on two or more occasions will be automatically disqualified from holding office in council for five years if they are suspended again.
- Councillors can no longer participate in decisions to make, amend, alter or repeal environmental planning instruments for the whole council area where they or their spouse, defacto partner, relative, partner or employer have a pecuniary interest. The only exceptions to this are:
- The only interests affected are to their place of residence or
- They have made a special disclosure of these interests.
- The same regulation for pecuniary interests also extends to non-pecuniary interests (like membership of sporting clubs etc) with the only difference that a special disclosure of interests is not required.
You can find the draft of the Code of Conduct changes here.
The Statement of Business Ethics has also been drafted and it can be found here.
ORD07: Pecuniary interests report
This is the first pecuniary interest report for our new councillors. Every councillor must lodge these with the General Manager. The interesting thing with these reports is that any member of the public can view them on request but you cannot receive a copy or take notes of any kind. It’s strictly useful to those people with a good memory.
ORD08: Back to Business Week Funding
The Council has obtained a grant of $5000, which it intends to use to contribute towards a free Back to Business Week event (Feb 26-Mar 24) in partnership with South Western Sydney Business Enterprise Centre.
ORD09: Investment monies report – November 2016
Councillors will note the November investment report. You can see the full report here.
ORD10: Investment monies report – December 2016
Councillors will note the December investment report. You can see the full report here.
ORD11: Minutes of the November 16, 2016, Business Assurance and Risk Committee
This is more housekeeping noting the minutes of last year’s meeting. You can read the minutes here.
ORD12: Appointment of independent members to Business and Assurance Risk Committee
The final bit of housekeeping for the night is likely to see Mr John Gordon and Mr Bruce Hanrahan reappointed to their existing positions.