Image for HCC: A slowly crumbling ton of bricks

Hobart City Council
Open Meeting: Monday 14th December 09
5pm.
Present: Lord Mayor Rob Valentine, Deputy Lord Mayor Helen Burnet, Aldermen Darlene Haigh, Jeff Briscoe, Marti Zucco, Peter Sexton, Eva Ruzicka, Philip Cocker, Ron Christie, Bill Harvey, Elise Archer, Damon Thomas.

Some Agenda Items …

Two New Grants

The only motion with notice, proposed by Helen Burnet, was for the establishment of two new categories of annual funding grants. The Environmental Grants Program would support projects providing a clear environmental benefit to Hobart’s environs.

The Business Support Grants Program would target organizations or individuals that strive to revitalize, enhance and sustain local commercial and retail precincts for the benefit of residents, visitors and the City of Hobart’s communities.

Christie asked if other Australian councils fund similar projects.

‘They certainly do’, said Burnet.

Her attempt to show that Council supports both environmentally friendly and business organizations was supported by Council to the extent that a report on the proposal will be prepared.

Wellspring Church: 43 -47 Grosvenor St. Sandy Bay.

The application to demolish a heritage house and replace it with an auditorium was knocked back by the Development and Environmental Services Committee(DESC), whose recommendation was brought to this meeting, with regret, by its Chair, Alderman Haigh.

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There had been 19 representations submitted on the proposal, only one of which supported it. The Henry Hunter church, said Haigh, was too special a building to have another one so close to it – quite apart from the heritage value of the house proposed for demolition. The strong recommendation from Council’s heritage officer left little room for movement, Haigh felt.

Alderman Cocker spoke to the motion, which he said presented some challenges, but the main thing to be considered was residential amenity, which would have suffered unreasonable pressure if the application was approved.

The committee’s motion to refuse was unanimously upheld by Council.

30 Clarke Ave Battery Point – partial Demolition, Dwelling Extension and Alterations.

DESC, said Haigh, felt that ‘the horse had already bolted’ in relation to impact on the streetscape and that incremental changes already approved by Council meant it now had to overturn the officers’ recommendations for refusal on heritage grounds.

Haigh expressed the view that given the number of applications this property has brought to Council, she would be happy never to see another one for it and that DESC would be over the moon if that were the case.

A streetscape described at the DESC meeting as being already populated by high walls and roller doors, would not be adversely affected by this application, it was agreed.

Archer felt it was ‘a sensible development, even though it overturns the officers’ report’.

When it came to voting on approving the application only Ruzicka said No.

Hobart –Glenorchy Boundary

4-10 St John’s Avenue (Creek Road Netball Centre) New Town –

Signage

The success of this application hinged on whether yet more signage was going to have much impact in an area that is already compromised in terms of aesthetic appeal.

There was agreement that the building concerned was ‘shed-like’, although there was heated exchange over whether nearby buildings could be described as ‘industrial’. When Haigh objected to Christie’s use of that term he demanded that she ‘just button up’ , saying he would not be interrupted by ‘her, that, it – lady - ’ all the time.

There was also some difference of opinion on whether this location is significant as a gateway to Hobart.

‘Why not flashing lights?’  asked Zucco, ‘Flash! Flash! Flash! You are now leaving Glenorchy, and Flash! Flash! Flash! You are now entering Hobart -  Zucco Country.’

‘That’s not Zucco Country!’ said Haigh, unbuttoned.

Valentine felt the debate wasn’t about welcoming signs and despite it being the city boundary an industrial looking shed was hard to ‘pretty up’.

All except Cocker, Ruzicka and Burnet said yes to the application.

275 Liverpool St. and 46-56 Barrack St. Hobart. Partial demolition, Welfare Institution and 22 Flats.

‘Not wanting to pat myself on the back,’ proved impossible for Zucco who proceeded to take credit for one of many attempts by various aldermen to pursue affordable housing in Hobart over the last decade.

Harvey agreed the proposal, which will combine public parking and housing, was a good model which will hopefully be repeated in years to come.

Archer had received an email from one local resident concerned about the impact on social and housing values in the area. Archer’s response was that it was not within Council’s role as a planning authority to rule on such matters.  If anti-social behaviour were to transpire, she said, it could and would be dealt with by the appropriate authorities at the time.

The application was unanimously supported.

Battery Point Foreshore – Public Access (Walkway and Cycleway) – Commissioning of Consultant.

It was proposed, in a motion coming from Parks and Customer Services, chaired by Alderman Briscoe, that the Council approve commissioning of an appropriate engineering and environmental consultant to support, through investigation, design and reporting, the work required to be carried out by the Council’s Architectural Project Unit in designing the Battery Point Foreshore Walkway. It was also moved that an amount of $30,000 be considered for inclusion in the 2009/2010 Architectural Projects budget function, at the mid-year budget review.

John Freeman, who was a staunch proponent of the walkway, has been replaced on Council by Damon Thomas, who has reservations. Briscoe, another long time advocate of easier public access to the foreshore, urged Thomas not to block the project’s progress to date by proposing amendments. This was to no avail.

Thomas’ amendments were that:

The Council will commission, as part of the said consultancy a report on the overall financial impact of the proposal (as it stands currently) which study will include an analysis of:

1. The costs of the Battery Point Foreshore Walkway to date ;
2. The costs of any resumption/acquisition action required to implement
the project;
3. The full costs assessed for the construction phase;
4. The maintenance schedule (proposed) for the Walkway;
5. The impact on the operating requirement of appropriate asset
revaluation-treatment of depreciation of the Walkway following construction.

There were suggestions from several aldermen, starting with Burnet and including Haigh, that Thomas was trying ‘to frighten the horses’. If that was the case his efforts paled in comparison to Haigh’s.

In sympathy for river-side home owners she conjured the spectre of undesirables being attracted to the walkway.  ‘It would be all right if the world were a better place and if you could control the people who come on to those things and cause home invasions and set fences on fire’, she said.

Archer reminded Council that the area being looked at in the report was not the ‘potentially problematic’, residential section.

Added to the fact that most elements of Thomas’ amendments would be considered in the report, they were rejected by the majority of Council, which supported the original motions with Haigh and Ruzicka voting No.

To Charge or Not to Charge

Salamanca Place – Sunday Voucher Parking

Finance and Corporate Services brought a motion to Council that a three hour limit be applied for all parking in the Salamanca area from Monday to Sunday and a follow-up survey be conducted in six months.

This item was a significant contributor to the length of Council’s meeting on Monday night – four hours. Archer, chair of the relevant committee, said the intention was for parking to remain free on Sundays with a three hour limit applying on an honour system.

This notion went down like a slowly crumbling ton of bricks. It was based on a one day survey which found that 13% of vehicles occupied the same space between 10 and 3. Of 100 businesses surveyed only 31 responded, of which 65% were against charging for Sunday parking.

Archer felt there was insufficient evidence of a problem existing for charging for Sunday parking to be introduced.

Cocker said that if he had his way all cars on the shop side of Salamanca would be removed permanently.

Christie agreed with Cocker. Hoping to get out of this meeting ‘before breakfast’ he said the only reason the motion was before them was that several traders had come to Council as a result of Salamanca business employees parking there all day. The idea, he said, was to get them out and let visitors in. Walking through the area every Sunday he observed that the number of people paying for unnecessary vouchers ‘was wonderful’. Why not formalize the arrangement?

Burnet felt the Finance committee was falling down on the job of revenue raising for Council, foreshadowing a motion that normal parking fees ($1 per hour) apply on Sundays.

An attempt to defer the matter back to committee failed and so the debate staggered on.

Ruzicka felt the data supplied was insufficient to make a decision and suggested a proper survey.

Harvey said he would support Burnet’s foreshadowed motion. Of the honour system, he said that to have signs up saying ‘3 Hour Parking –But Don’t Worry About It’ was pointless.

Valentine agreed that the 3 hour proposal needed enforcement. Christie wondered why 3 hours would be relevant if vouchers applied.

There was more but in the end it was deferred back to committee for further thought.

That was the last Hobart City Council meeting for the year.

It was mildly interesting to see that seating for reporters at open meeting remains reduced to one. One glass sits beside the flask of iced water. The second reporter to arrive had to struggle to bring a chair from the public gallery past the backs of sitting aldermen, narrowly avoiding bringing down the mantel-piece floral setting on the way.  She, or Council, should try harder next time.

Picture: Cocker, Christie Wish Salamanca was a Car Free Zone. Always.