MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire hired prominent dispute resolution facilitator Bruce Turner to run a three-hour mediation session with shire planners, RACV Cape Schanck Resort people, and objectors last week.
It was the first major meeting of all parties following increased opposition to the RACV’s proposed $135 million, five-storey, 30-metre high conference complex at its resort off Boneo Rd (“Opposition mounts to RACV resort plan”, The News, 3/2/15).
Mr Turner is hired by the shire and other statutory authorities to run public meetings about controversial planning issues and was last “keeping the peace” during the nine-month fuss in 2013 over plans to dump rubbish in the old Pioneer quarry at Dromana, which was eventually rejected by the state government.
The resort started life as Cape Country Club, first approved in 1985 by the Shire of Flinders, and was bought by the RACV in December 2005.
RACV wants to demolish the existing clubhouse and construct a building to accommodate 650 conference delegates, up from the existing 250 limit. The auto club – which has resorts on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, and at Inverloch, Healesville and Torquay – says it wants to build five storeys to reduce the footprint and environmental impact.
Objectors say the building is too high and will be about 12 metres above the ridgeline. Paul A’Bell, one of about 200 landholders in the precinct, said a larger conference centre would be a good thing for the peninsula but the scale of the proposed building was wrong.
“Residents are not allowed to build houses more than eight metres high,” he said.
He said that at the mediation session in the shire offices at Mornington, attended by more than 45 “stakeholders”, objectors asked for photos to be taken from all neighbouring properties and the five-storey building overlaid to show how it would look when built.
“All of the photos we’ve seen have been taken from a low angle that shows it in the best light,” he said.
Objectors have dubbed the building “Ayers Rock” and “the mothership”.
Mr A’Bell said it was revealed that rooms would have balconies and sliding doors, sparking concerns about noise and light emission late at night.
He said about 30-40 houses would have a direct view of the resort. It would also be visible from Boneo Rd, “several holes on the National Golf Course”, Gunnamatta Beach and Bass Strait.
Objectors have queried the haste with which the resort was approved by the shire council and the state government, which gave its OK just before entering caretaker mode before last November’s state election.
Other questions asked included “was this the largest building ever approved on the peninsula”; “why are noise barriers being installed on the roof”; “will delivery of goods be restricted”; and “why have no shire councillors responded to various invitations, emails and calls made by residents”.
Mr Turner will now submit a report to the shire. Nothing will happen until after it has been considered.