KNOX Council has made a courageous decision in rejecting subdivision of the Glenfern Road green wedge, a spokeswoman for opponents to the plan has said.
Despite officers' recommendations that councillors approve a permit for a five-lot subdivision at 157-173 Glenfern Road, Upper Ferntree Gully, the vote at a council meeting last week was split four-four. Mayor Adam Gill used his casting vote to reject the subdivision. His was the final word as Cr Peter Cole was absent. He did not submit an apology for his absence.
Councillors Mick Van de Vreede, David Cooper and Joe Cossari also voted against the application, while John Mortimore, Andrew Walter, Sue McMillan and Darren Pearce supported it.
Last year, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal knocked back the original proposal, which provided for seven lots on the 30-hectare block. A revised proposal was submitted to the council earlier this year, providing for more than four hectares for public land, revegetation of waterways and 3000 trees.
Friends of the Glenfern Green Wedge spokeswoman Johanna Selleck said the four councillors who voted against the officer advice showed "considerable vision and leadership against heavy lobbying". She said it allayed her fears of further green wedge subdivision — for the moment. The group had been trying to raise funds to buy the land. Dr Selleck said the decision meant they would have more time to raise the money.
Andrew Peterson, one of the four landowners, said he was disappointed and somewhat surprised by the refusal because they had thought it a fair and equitable application. He said they now had three options: appealing the decision at the VCAT, selling the land (it is already in two lots) or sitting on the land for a number of years.
"That is one of our frustrations because it's doing nothing for the environment or the community then."
Cr Cooper said it was one of the hardest decisions he had to make in eight years on council. "Once this land is gone, it's gone. There will be no other rural piece of land in Knox left like it."
But councillors Mortimore, Pearce and McMillan acknowledged that the rights of the landowners had to be respected. Cr McMillan said the new application had been a "fair and reasonable outcome" for the environment, community and owners.
What do you think? Did the council make the right decision? Post your comment to knoxweekly.com.au.