IT WAS billed as a “watershed situation for Yarragon” by councillor Murray Cook, but his forced approval of a new development on the town’s main street did not go how he planned.
Above: an impression of what the new building will look like. Source: council documents.
Shire officers had recommend councillors refuse the planning permit application for a two storey development at 83 Princes Way – a corner block which presently has a house on it – due to concerns about parking availability.
At Wednesday’s council meeting Cr Cook moved an alternative motion to approve the development, but requiring 12 public parking spaces be made available on the site.
“This application… will have long term ramifications into the future of the town,” Cr Cook said at the meeting.
“The success of Yarragon has been noted widely by myself and others. Parking for shops in the western end of the town was initially underutilised, but the forward planning back then has stood us in good stead.
“If there is no parking people do not stop, and if people do not stop there are no customers. That is the bottom line.
“This council should not create a parking problem for future councils to solve, which future ratepayers instead of present developers will have to pay for.
“We need to remember how important it is to set precedents, and it’s true we have today’s residents to care for and tomorrow’s to plan for.”
Cook was supported by fellow ward councillor Peter Kostos, who responded to suggestions made by developers there was presently no parking problem in Yarragon’s east.
“There may be spaces today, but if this is successful and other developers are successful someone will be screaming ‘there’s not enough parking,’” Cr Kostos said.
Cook and Kostos were the only two to vote for the motion, but Warragul ward councillor Gerard Murphy moved a second alternative – the exact same motion as Cook’s, but with the parking requirement reduced to six spaces.
“While I appreciate Cr Cook’s motion of 12 car parks, I’m looking at the idea of six being the closest recommendation made by the officers,” Cr Murphy said.
“It’s a great development. It’s going to set the future tone and I commend it going forward.”
Drouin ward’s Terry Williamson said future councils should deal with parking issues as they arise.
“The east end does need a bit of a shake-up and it’s far better to have a parking problem,” he told councillors.
“If we’ve got a problem to solve in the future, future councils will solve it.”
Williamson’s words fired up Cr Cook, who said “I strongly disagree it’s better to have a parking problem when we can fix it now.”
“I think six is just not enough and is setting a [bad] precedent.”
In a report to councillors planning officers said the site was suitably zoned for the development, but concerns were raised about no on-site public parking being provided and the project being an over-development of the site.
According to plans, the ground floor will include a café and another business while a three bedroom dwelling is planned for the top floor. A separate planning permit application for a garage for hot rod car storage has also been presented to councillors.
A spokesperson for the developers said the site and parking availability were appropriate for the development and the community response had been largely positive.
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