Posts Tagged ‘Meetings’

Stage Two Update – and thank you everyone!

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Many, many thanks to the hundreds of people who supported us in our efforts to have this totally inappropriate development thrown out! Council received 242 submissions, with 230 of them being objections and only 12 in favour.

Those of you who lodged objections should get a letter from Council advising you of the decision. Next week’s local papers should also carry a notice of the refusal of consent for DA 36/2010/HA.

The Go Ape application was Item 4 on the agenda of the Development Assessment Unit meeting held on 2 February 2010. I have extracted just Item 4 so you can read Council’s report on the Go Ape DA as it appears in the agenda (pdf – 1.6Mb). This is a lot easier than wading through the pdf on Council’s website which includes all the other DAs considered that night. Gotta love the words “Does not comply”!

As we thought, the applicant has twelve months to lodge an appeal with the Land and Environment Court. Should this happen, we will update this site and email everyone on our list.


Stage Two – DAU decision stands

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

We’ve won this battle, though the war may still be simmering.

No Councillors notified Council that they wished to have the Go Ape application determined by a full Council meeting. Consequently, the Development Assessment Unit’s decision stands, and consent for the Go Ape development has been refused by the Hill Shire Council.

Council will now write to Go Ape, and to those who made submissions, notifying them formally that consent for the development has been refused.

However, Go Ape may still lodge an appeal with the Land and Environment Court. I have a feeling they have twelve months! to do this, but I will confirm that when I find out.

Stage One – DAU refuses Go Ape application!

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Council’s Development Assessment Unit met last night (Tuesday) to consider the report on the Go Ape proposal. We have been advised that the DAU accepted the report and, accordingly, refused the Go Ape application.

Councillors now have until 5.00pm tonight to “make written notification to have the matter determined by a full Council meeting”. If at least three Councillors do this, then the DAU decision will be put aside and the matter will, instead, be decided at a full Council meeting.

More news tomorrow!

Decision Time!

Friday, January 29th, 2010

It’s been a long wait, but things are finally moving again.

If you attended the reconciliation meeting in September, you should have received a letter from Council this week. In it, they advise that a report on the Go Ape proposal has been prepared and is to go before the Council’s Development Assessment Unit on Tuesday night, 2 February 2010.

The DAU meeting is a staff meeting and is not open to the public. The agenda, containing the full report, is now available from:

DAU Agenda – 2 February 2010

The report recommends that the application be refused on many grounds. It’s very difficult to envisage the DAU doing anything other than refusing the application. Having said that, the possible scenarios are (I think):

  1. The application is refused, and three Councillors do not make written notification to have the matter determined by a full Council meeting. Go Ape could then go to the Land and Environment Court.
  2. The application is refused, but at least three Councillors do make written notification to have the matter determined by a full Council meeting (i.e. there are three councillors who are in favour of Go Ape and want to argue the DAU decision in a full meeting of council). If that happens, we will need to mobilise again – full lobbying regalia will be required! We will know if this has happened on Thursday morning.
  3. Despite the recommendation to refuse the application, the DAU approves it (possibly with conditions attached). If this happens, we will need to phone or email councillors promptly to ask them to have the matter taken to a full Council meeting. They only have until 5pm that day (Wednesday). If it goes to a full meeting, we would, of course, be back in fully lobbying mode.
  4. The DAU could, perhaps, refer the matter to a full Council meeting without making a decision. Again, we would go on a war footing!

As soon as we have any news, we will report it here on the web site. If we do need to start lobbying again, email will be quickest means of getting in touch with people. If you haven’t already sent us your email address, please use the Contact page to get in touch.


Council’s notes from the Go Ape Conciliation Conference

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

On 6 October 2009, Council sent out notes taken at the Go Ape Conciliation Conference held on 7 September.  We’re providing them here for anyone who wasn’t at the conference or didn’t get a copy.

The accompanying letter from Cameron McKenzie (Group Manager – Environment and Planning for The Hills Shire Council) invites you to contact Adam Dean of Council’s Environment and Planning Services on 9843 0352 should you have any enquiries.

Feel free to leave comments here too!


What’s next?

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

“Whats next……” I hear you cry?

An excellent question and one that deserved an answer before now – apologies for not doing this earlier.

Without rewriting the Hills Shire Council webpage on the DA process the next stage of the process will be that the notes from the “conciliation meeting” will be sent to all those parties who registered on the night – providing of course your handwriting is legible – we’ll post them here as soon as we get them and they’re expected about now.  It’s important to remember these are “notes” only, not minutes and have no legal or binding status.  Council have been provided copies of all of our speeches plus other submissions on the night plus have all of our collective submissions on file.  Parallel to this the Developer will be advised of the issues raised on the night.

Council basically has 3 levels fpr determination of DA’s;

  • Under Delegated Authority (standard stuff that meets the guidelines, basic renos, carports, signage etc)
  • Council’s Development Assessment Unit (DAU) meeting. Development applications determined by the DAU are those which do not comply with the relevant planning regulations/ policies, and/or where an objection has been submitted.
  • Ordinary Meeting of the Council. Development applications determined by the elected Council are those of a controversial nature that may have been referred by the DAU or attracted a large volume of objections.

Obviously this DA will go to the DAU – the DAU may choose one/any/many of 4 basic options;

      1. Deny consent in total. Developer can challenge in Land & Environment Court.
      2. Grant consent in total – DA as submitted.
      3. Grant consent subject to conditions/terms.
      4. Refer the matter directly to a council meeting.

The minutes and applicable decisions of the DAU (Tuesday morning closed meeting) are published and Councillors have a limited timeframe to decide whether to refer the matter to a council meeting or not depending on the DAU decision.  We need to be ready to lobby councillors QUICKLY should the decision be against us, ie 2, 3 or 4 as above.  It’s highly likely however, given the “interest” generated that this will go straight to council.  It’s imperative that we have a good showing at any meeting, normal BRAG rules apply – no uncontrolled emotion, swearing, yelling or handguns.

Once we know what the determination of DA is the next challenge for us will be the lobbying of Council [and other parties] to get the Reserve rezoned or protected under the current zoning  – we will all need to meet to discuss a strategy further down the track.

Please keep visiting the website for updates and if you haven’t already done so, register your details via the contacts page.  Please ask any questions you may have and any suggestions, news, views etc always welcome.


A successful “conciliation”!!

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

To the 200+ (official records show at least 191 signed in but there were more than that) less the 5 representing the developer who turned up on a dark and stormy Monday night, on behalf of BRAG I wish to extend the biggest THANK YOU!

I’m going to break one of my own rules and get a little emotive in this post.  I’m also aware that the developers read our website so I’ll welcome them as well.

It would be fair to say that when the spectacular (but fortunately brief) electrical storm hit at about 5:30PM and I was hurriedly trying to print my speech an expletive or two escaped my lips – worried that people wouldn’t bother to turn up at the meeting but even more concerned a power cut would hit and I’d be trying to read my speech off a thumb-drive.

The car park looked very empty at about 6:30PM, had we thrown a party and no-one was coming?  Looking inside the council building I saw many of the faithful and felt so much better. I was a little concerned when neighbours failed to recognise me – apparently it was the suit and tie?  At about 6:55 the queue at the sign in table had grown to out the door and the room was already 3/4′s full.  Everyone was so encouraging and seeing Peter Brown (speaker #1) and Tony Hunt (number 2) also dressed in suit and tie (not pre-arranged I assure you) made me feel much better.  Seeing the developer in jeans and jumper also helped.

A quick chat with the council ensured that a fair hearing would be available provided the developer got equal time and we were off.  Peter stepped up and spoke eloquently and passionately about traffic, parking, public amenity and a few other things – all I remember is “this development is flawed and must not be approved” – get a theme and stick to it.

The applause that greeted the culmination of Peters speech was amazing and spontaneous, we could feel the love in the room.  Tony then delivered what was the most technical part of our objections, he had everyone in the room at “hello”, errr, at “I hold 3 degrees including a masters in environmental science” -  I think I heard the “Oh S#!t” from the opposition from where I was sitting!  Tony managed to make the noise report look like the ridiculous thing that it is, mixing tech-speak with explanations and pointing out the obvious flaws in a way that showed research, understanding and passion – well done that man!  The council bench were furiously writing notes and most interestingly nodding at points as they were made. Exit stage left, round of applause.

I don’t remember much of my time up there, more the times I looked up from juggling my notes and the annoying microphone to see the faces looking back and the attention that was being paid.  It was a rush to be up there and to finish without making (I hope) too big a fool of myself.  I must add at this point, that only a little of my speech was my own work, several ghost writers had their pens in my ink so to speak – Tony Hunt and Cherry and Robert Gibson are mainly responsible if it was cr@p!

3 – nil, developer up to bat.

Michael Ledzion told me after the event that he didn’t expect it to be like it was, but I think I can sum it up best as saying it was like he brought a waterpistol to a thermo-nuclear war…..I won’t bore you with the gory details as I have an obvious bias but his consultants didn’t seem to help matters much and then it was onto the Q&A round.

Speaker after speaker either made valid points or asked questions that seemed to get either no answer or a poor response.  The room was extremely well educated on the issue and cause and effect – our cause was helped endlessly by a representative from the Darug who advised that the Darug were against the development – the lifeboats were being inflated on the developers benches.  For those that have been following my private joke about the French (don’t ask) you can imagine what went through my mind when a (beautiful) french accent was heard to announce she was from Ourimbah where she runs a similar venture – torpedoes away but not in our direction as I expected but rather a dead centre blow on the good ship Go Ape’s evening cruise.

We were brought back to reality with a thump when the councillors, quite rightly reminded us that this is a DA process and still has to processed accordingly – we await the report from the night and the DUA submission – the fight is not over but I have to admit we put up one hell of reasoned, researched argument.  This process may be flawed but for the moment it’s the only one we’ve got and on Monday night proved that there is always a reason and a way to fight perceived injustice.

I won’t bore you with too many more details, only to thank all of those who assisted on the night, Lynda for my bottle of water, Paula for the Save Bidjigal Reserve badges and a huge hug for both Tony and Peter.

To Di Gorman for the website and her work in the background, Greg Carson and all of the volunteers for the petitions and flyers.  Jeff Gorman and Peter Brown for printing same.  To everyone else who have assisted, encouraged or just maintained the rage – maintain it for a while longer – I’m not entirely convinced this is over by a long margin as yet – stay tuned.


Michael Cameron

Conciliation Conference Details

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Please attend the Go Ape Conciliation Conference:

Monday, 7 September 2009 at 7.00 pm

Function Room (turn right after you go in the main entrance)
The Hills Shire Council Chambers
129 Showground Road
Castle Hill NSW 2154
(entrance via Carrington Road)
[Google maps] [Whereis] []

The object of the Conciliation Conference is “to create a forum for both the applicant and the residents to discuss this proposal”. In addition to residents and the applicant (and possibly some of his experts), (some) Councillors and Council planning officers attend. Those who sent in a submission have received this invitation and copy of the Conciliation Conference Procedures.

They do ask that you confirm your attendance at the meeting by telephoning Irene Peh at Council on 9843 0175. However, this is an open meeting, so come along even if you haven’t confirmed.

Numbers are important, so please attend if at all possible. Bring your neighbours too! Also phone each of the Councillors to ask if they will be attending. Contact details are on the Action page.

BRAG Meeting 24th August 2009

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Thank you to all who attended the 2nd Bidjigal Reserve Action Group (BRAG) Meeting.  Around 60 people attended including 3 Hills Shire Councillors, Clr Thomas, Clr Jefferies and Clr Bentham.  At one stage I saw several people peering in the side window of the loungeroom – no idea what or even how they heard anything but their attendance was appreciated.

There was a great number of excellent questions, both of the group itself in general and the councillors in particular – it was also interesting to hear their different opinions however I think we can all take heart from their positive words about the  approach we are taking.

It’s important to remember that this is the start of the battle – we need to win the war – become active particpants in the decisions others are making on our behalf.  Write and phone Councillors with your opinion – even 6 unhappy smiley faces has an impact – :P .  We will also be adding contact details for the Bidjigal Trust – one of the important things that came out of the meeting was the fact that NO commercial agreement has been reached between the Trust and the applicant so we can affect the decision.

Attendance in numbers at the Conciliation meeting is essential – see the website for more information.

We will be in touch with all of the volunteers we can reach out to – if we don’t please chase us, unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately given the GFC) we also have employers who insist on a small amount of productivity during the day…..

Thanks again for your support.

Michael Cameron