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People power
Residents vow to fight development
by Cameron Outridge  (13.12.02)

Maleny residents have vowed to take their fight to court if necessary to stop two proposed supermarkets ruining the towns' village atmosphere.    About 300 people attended Saturday's meeting at the Maleny Community Centre organised by the resident group calling itself Retain Maleny's Character.    People at the meeting vented their frustration at having no opportunity to guide the process under which two supermarkets may be given the green light to change the face of their village.   And at Council's perceived failure to communicate in adequate time to facilitate proper consultation.    But Division One Cr Pauline Clayton told the meeting her hands were tied, legally and bureaucratically because the application for Miva and Myrtle Streets fit the town planning requirements.  "I get as frustrated as you do,'' she said.  "Because I am 'the community' I am not 'the Council'.  "This wasn't an application for a Coles or Woolworths.   We all know it's going to be a Coles or a Woolworths.  But it wasn't for a Coles or Woolworths.  It was for a building.''.  Her view was supported by independent Town Planner Paul Summer.   "Caloundra cannot refuse the application,'' he said. "It's not the planners fault.   It's not Council's fault.  It's not the Developers fault.   It's a weakness in the DCP.''  Jill Jordan told the meeting the crux of the matter was Council's interpretation of the planning scheme.  "We think the Council has made the wrong interpretation of our planning scheme and we reject their decision,'' she said.  "The Community Advisory Group was told by the planners that the intent of the Local Area Plan was sufficient to uphold what we wanted as the character of Maleny.  We were told we couldn't put anything more detailed than what we did.  "It's not enough for us to say we're going to to something about it for the future.   We're going to do something now."

The first development - a supermarket twice the size of Maleny IGA and with attached shops and 177 car parking spaces - has been labelled Code Assessable by Caloundra City Council and was approved by planners last week.   This was despite a petition from more than 2000 residents rejecting the idea.  "Code Assessable means that you and I, the residents of Maleny have no say in that development process,'' spokesperson Michael Berry told the meeting.  "We are locked out of the process and Council has no duty to take heed of resident objections.  "In other words, a developer living in Melbourne can decide to fundamentally change the character of the Maleny township without ever having been here and without the township having any say in that change.''  Mr Berry said the supermarket proposal ran contrary to the "intent, the spirit and the letter of statutory documents" meant to shape and protect the community.  "The RMC Group argues that the community clearly articulated its own vision of where it was and where it wanted to be through the Local Area Planning process three years ago.  Mr Berry said the development would have enormous implications for Maleny including the economic impact on existing retailers, traffic impact, stormwater management and trade waste disposal.  "This shopping centre development is not consolidation and limited expansion it is the biggest single retail development ever proposed for the village of Maleny,'' he said.   "So it is unthinkable that the community has been locked out of such crucial decision-making - particularly when at least half of its residents have so far registered their opposition to the development (in the petition).  "Maleny doesn't need a new shopping centre.  We already have a shopping centre.   It's called Maple Street. It has served Maleny well and Council should exercise its duty of care, to protect the retail and social heart of this town.''

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.