MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors last week agreed to the Skylift gondolas at Arthurs Seat being painted a bright blue.
Cr Tim Wood, a retired County Court judge, argued that councillors had “no jurisdiction” to deal with the matter because they had not been provided with the colour and texture schedule as directed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Other councillors at the 22 June meeting said the colour depicted in illustrations that Skylift supplied was not named and that it did not, as VCAT required, “complement the natural landscape”.
Councillors favouring the colour said it would blend with or complement the Arthurs Seat escarpment. Cr David Garnock said it would “blend beautifully with the sky if you’re looking up”.
“Complement” is defined in the Macquarie Dictionary as “that which completes or makes perfect”.
The colour of the gondolas was the main sticking point for councillors in approving the final conditions for the $18 million project. With the vote locked at five-all, mayor and meeting chair Bev Colomb used her casting vote to approve Skylift. Cr Graham Pittock was absent overseas.
The only formal description of the colour came when Skylift proponents at the meeting were asked to name it. They responded: “Pantone Process Blue.”
Research done by this writer indicated that the gondola colour shown in the council agenda was rich in the cyan range, whereas Pantone Process Blue is predominantly blue.
One colour grouping indicated that the gondola colour’s closest match was named “Freefall”. A complementary colour was “Into The Blue”.
Members of the community group Save Our Seat present at the meeting disapproved the colour and were upset that the matter was not being decided as VCAT had ordered.
“We will be seeking legal advice about whether the council decision is sound and may apply to VCAT if there are sufficient grounds to challenge it,” spokeswoman Alison Laird said after the meeting.
“The colour … is completely inappropriate for the natural and cultural context of Arthurs Seat and is a bizarre choice more suited to commercial signage,” she said.
“It will stand out like a sore thumb, so that Skylift can advertise its own existence to would-be patrons.”
Local state MP Martin Dixon hailed the meeting’s result. It was an “important milestone”, he said in a statement, with Skylift clearing its last hurdle.
“Council had asked the Skylift consortium to come back to them with a gondola colour from the green, grey or blue palette and last Monday night council voted to accept an environmentally sensitive sky blue,” his statement read.
Mr Dixon described the colour as “a minor issue”.
It was important to grasp that “the colour of the gondola will have zero impact on the positive benefits the Skylift project will bring to the wider tourism industry and the resultant future jobs growth for the Mornington Peninsula.”
With no further legal impediments, it was “now incumbent on council to move quickly in their assessment of remaining conditions and ensure this project can commence as quickly as possible.”
Cr David Gibb said the project should go ahead, with no more attempts to impede it. He echoed Mr Dixon’s sentiments about the economic and social values of the project, saying the development would be of local, state and national significance and would provide work for locals in the construction and operating phases.
Cr Hugh Fraser was among councillors critical of the colour not meeting the council’s stated requirement for a range “compatible with the Australian landscape”.
“What’s been produced is what one might call an iridescent blue,” he said, adding that “the applicant knows the appropriate range of colours … it is up to the applicant to bring forward [that] range.”
An amendment he moved to oppose the colour was defeated.