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Council meeting of October 12th filled with surprises

For the average Eurobodalla ratepayer another Council meeting will go by without any interest at all. Most won't even know it is on, some may and might watch the Live Stream and others might just wait for the media to encapsulate the outcome into a series of one liners. Here are the key items of the upcoming agenda. The first is interesting in that the heading doesn't tell you anything about where the land is or what the issue is. This is a typical way that Council uses to push through their own agenda. They have done this time and time again, especially when reclassifying public reserves from Community to Operational. This item is about the Coila Lake subdivision at Tuross Head that has seen major outcry by the community when they discovered major differences between the "modified" Development Application and the one that was approved over thirty years ago that apparently is still in play. Clr asks a range of Questions on behalf of the community: Question 1. How does Council assess that the environmental impact has decreased without having done a study of environmental impact? 2. Could you please confirm that as the DA was approved in 1983, it is no longer the responsibility of Council to ensure that a modern assessment of biodiversity and environmental impact is not required. 3. Council advised there is no additional clearing of the land required. However with the changes to the eastern side, placing houses against the forest, what will be the impact to ensure fire hazard protection? 4. Council advise that indigenous communities have been consulted with. When and with whom did this occur? 5. The Heritage NSW website says ‘if you are planning an activity where harm to an Aboriginal object or declared Aboriginal place cannot be avoided, you will need to apply for an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP)’. You can read Council's responses HERE: QON21/008 Modification of Development Application (DA) DA0124/20 and DA 2248/1983 Proposed Subdivision - Lot 35 DP 244559 The item is the Broulee Mossy Point Community Association Petition The Petition specifically states: "We the undersigned, petition the Eurobodalla Shire Council to: Meet its 2003 Commitment that lot 89 (DP 1093710) is Community Land: Bushland and the commitment in the press release of 29 June 2021 that "the unformed road adjacent to Lot 89 will become Community Land".

Council have a report in Tuesday's agenda Land and road reserve classification - Clarke Street, Broulee Previous Council reports refer to the ‘land’ and in some cases it is not completely clear whether this definition includes the road reserve or just the lot. Except when quoting from previous reports or minutes, this report will use the terms ‘the lot’ for Lot 89 in DP 1093710, ‘road reserve’ for the road reserve and ‘lot and road reserve’ for both. The lot and road reserve has been the subject of considerable discussion between Council and the community since the 1990s. In 1994, Council resolved to reclassify the lot (then part lots 8 and 9 in DP 758168) as operational land, and this was subsequently enacted by the gazettal of Eurobodalla Urban Local Environment Plan 1999 (‘1999 LEP’). In 1997, the Natural Areas and Undeveloped Reserves Plan of Management was adopted by Council which lists the lot as community land. In 1999, the 1999 LEP was gazetted which was the legal enactment of the 1994 resolution to reclassify the lot as operational land. After that it has become a fustercluck of back and forth because of a failure of Council to action a Council determination On 29 January 2003 – A public hearing was held to discuss Draft POM on 29 January 2003 and over 20 people attended the meeting. The report from the consultant stated that the ‘main interest related to the land at the corner of Clarke Street and Broulee Road and the unanimous option was that it should be retained in public ownership’. 25 November 2003 - Council Minute 478 states: ‘THAT: 1. Council reclassify the Operational land at the corner of Broulee Road and Clarke Street (Part Lot 9 Sec 19 DP 758168 & Part Lot 8 Sect 19 DP 758168) as Community Land. 2. Council adopt the Plan of Management for Broulee & Mossy Point Reserves.’ The POM states ‘The development of this Plan of Management has resulted in reclassification of these two lots (8 and 9) as Community Land. In addition, the Unformed Road is to be closed and added to this POM as community land once this process is finalised’. Council now (in 2021) say that "The statement in the POM about reclassification is incorrect as reclassification can only be effected by Council resolution, which has to be undertaken in the prescribed manner or the making of an LEP. The road closure process was not enacted, nor did the Council’s resolution of 25 November 2003 address the closing or reclassification of the road reserve." On 1 December 2003 an Internal Council memo with attachment of Minute 478 to staff member to make amendments to the 1999 LEP to reflect that resolution to reclassify land from operational land to community land, and once done to request amendment to LIMES and MapInfo to show land as community land. So what we have is the Council of the day moving a motion that they were not legally able to move. And rather than tell the Councillors the Council staff have sat on this conveniently ignoring the wishes of the community and certainly the wishes of the then Councillors, using the status of the land to their advantage in offsets and whatever else they saw fit. Until they were caught out when they began pulling down trees. If you are interested in what the Council can resolve to do, you can find them listed HERE with a summary of factors councillors may wish to consider when making their decision. The resolution for each of the options contain the actions required under each option. My call: Council will move to sell with a vote of 7 against 2. Council staff offer in their Conclusion: Currently the lot is operational land and adjoining that lot is road reserve that is not required as road due to the location of constructed Clarke Street. The lot and the road reserve could yield three to four lots if a small land swap with an adjoining owner is included to achieve a uniform allotment pattern. Land values are very strong at the moment and therefore, subdivision and sale could generate revenue for Council, likely to be in the order of $1million. Of interest is the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee Annual Report for year ending 30 June 2021 The report to Council says: During the past year, the ARIC has reviewed and/or monitored a number of regular (standard agenda items) and one-off issues such as: Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre (now known as Bay Pavilions) progress It is considered the presence of the ARIC adds value to Council and strengthens a culture of sound financial governance that is increasingly transparent and accountable. Each member of the ARIC contributes to the continual improvement of Council processes from within and represents the community by playing a pivotal role in the management of Council’s financial requirements and expectations. Laughingly the report fails to advise that they were denied access to key information in regards to the Batemans Bay Pavilions as was revealed when Councillor Constable requested that a critical decision around funding of the facility be deferred until a report could be received from the Committee. It has become more than apparent that the Audit and Risk Committee is little more than a toothless box ticking panel that kowtows to the whim of the agenda they are served. Quite embarrassing really and most disappointing. Further reading: Are Council's Audit Committee just parrots offering half informed opinions?

Dividends from Water and Sewer Funds Great news again this year as we reap the rewards of intentionally being overcharged on Water and Sewer so that a loophole can be played that sees "dividends" paid into the General Fund. The current estimate of these dividend amounts is $651,210 for Water Fund and $310,060 for Sewer Fund. This has been going on for decades as exposed by Councillor Pat McGinlay. While it is all legally above board the Councillor no doubt will once again ask "is it morally and ethically acceptable?"

Item: Disclosure of Pecuniary Interest and other Matters Returns In accordance with part 4, clause 4.21 of the Model Code of Conduct, councillors and designated persons who hold that position on 30 June in each year are required to lodge a “Disclosures by Councillors and Designated Persons Return” with their general managers by 30 September each year. The Agenda states "Accordingly, the Disclosure of Pecuniary Interest and Other Matters returns for Councillors and designated staff for 2020-21 are tabled." That return may contain personal information about each councillor and designated person, including his or her name, address and signature, as well as information about property and share holdings, gifts received, debts owed, other sources of income, and positions held in a trade union or business or professional organisation. Information contained in returns made and lodged under clause 4.21 is to be made publicly available in accordance with the requirements of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, the Government Information (Public Access) Regulation 2009 and any guidelines issued by the Information Commissioner. The returns should be made publicly available on the council’s website free of charge unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure or to do so would impose unreasonable additional costs on the council. The Eurobodalla Council chooses not to make these publicly available on their website. As a general rule, a non-pecuniary conflict of interest will be significant where it does not involve a pecuniary interest for the purposes of clause 4.1, but it involves: a) a relationship between a council official and another person who is affected by a decision or a matter under consideration that is particularly close, such as a current or former spouse or de facto partner, a relative for the purposes of clause 4.4 or another person from the council official’s extended family that the council official has a close personal relationship with, or another person living in the same household But they aren't tabled. Quite often councillors make reference to Non-pecuniary conflicts. These interests must be identified and appropriately managed to uphold community confidence in the probity of council decision-making. The onus is on you to identify any nonpecuniary conflict of interest you may have in matters that you deal with, to disclose the interest fully and in writing, and to take appropriate action to manage the conflict in accordance with this code. To fail to declare a Non-Pecuniary interest is poor form and leaves a councilor open to all manner of suspicion in regards to openness and transparency. Such is the nature of an outstanding Code of Conduct complaint lodged against the Mayor in June 2021 for failure to declare a non pecuniary, non significant interest in an an agenda item she voted on that has now seen investigations on the matter referred to the Investigations and Performance Group of the Office of Local Government for assessment and any necessary action. Coopers Island Road is also back on the agenda. You can read all the background and the options being put forward HERE. My money is on a vote of 7 against 2 that Council approves the gate application on Coopers Island Road. This will however require the farmer to relocate the fence near the highway as the location of the gate subject to the application is not a ‘place at which the road intersects a boundary fence’ the application cannot be currently approved until the boundary fence is installed on the correct boundary. By allowing the gate to remain it means that the farmer will not be forced to install the "missing section" of fence along the Public Road that would reduce the risk of their stock from straying from their property onto public land by means other than a gate. Generously Council say that "noting that should the owner decide to erect a fence, Council has resolved to contribute 50% of the cost of the fence as a one-off contribution to a maximum amount of $5000. The response from the landowners should also include a reasonable timeframe for implementation.

Tune in at 11am Tuesday 12th October