Plane plan adds cost to candidate’s campaign

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MINIMISING controversy while running for the vacant Watson ward seat on Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has not come cheap for a least one candidate, and the shire.

Just weeks before nominating as a candidate in this month’s elections, Lisa Dixon took the unusual step of withdrawing a request she and her partner Ken Ingersoll had made for a planning scheme amendment to allow them to keep aeroplanes on private property abutting Tyabb airfield.

The shire says Ms Dixon and Mr Ingersoll had paid a $798 application fee for the amendment and that the processing the amendment had taken “approximately one week of officer’s time”.

Planning services executive manager David Bergin declined to put a figure on the cost to council.

“The shire has had six private requests out of the last 17 planning scheme amendments; this is the first one to be abandoned out of those six most recent private requests,” Mr Bergin said.

Ms Dixon, a former president of Western Port Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is one of six candidates seeking the Watson ward seat left vacant since the May resignation of Lynn Bowden.

The other candidates are Chris McLennan, Ben Loois, Julie Edge, Elise Klein and Michael Sixtus.

In a letter to strategic planning manager Allan Cowley withdrawing the request for a planning scheme amendment Ms Dixon said seeking to house planes in a garage on the couple’s Stuart Rd, Tyabb, property had been “been a massive journey, not to mention the financial and emotional toll it has placed on us” (“Bid for private hangar abandoned” The News 20/9/16).

The shire had decided to exhibit the planning scheme amendment despite a 2014 ruling that any decision on use of the site must wait until completion of the Tyabb Airfield Precinct Plan which is expected to begin last month.

Objectors said allowing the amendment would give the Peninsula Aero Club member Mr Ingersoll “backdoor approval for a hangar in spite of the still-valid 2004 reasons for it not being there” (“Anger over hangar plan” The News 19/7/16).

Tyabb and District Ratepayers’ Group sees the use of private land to store aircraft as “an incremental expansion of the airfield”.

Ms Dixon’s letter to Mr Cowley thanked him for the “inordinate amount of time and effort you have spent over the past five years in trying to deliver an outcome for the No. 2 shed at 62 Stuart Rd”.

Ms Dixon has also asked council to not order demolition of the shed, saying that they would continue to abide by a Victorian and Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) ruling “of leaving it vacant”.

“I wish to make it clear that should I be, or not be, successfully elected to council in the upcoming elections, I will be striving forward to seeing an eventual plan come into fruition for the betterment of the Tyabb community,” Ms Dixon stated in her letter to Mr Cowley.

Ratepayers’ group members Peter and Val Davis said in July that there was still a VCAT order in force prohibiting use of the Low Density Residential Zone land in Stuart Rd for aircraft storage, which would lapse if the amendment application had been successful.

In 2011 Mr Ingersoll was ordered by Frankston Magistrates’ Court to pay a $10,000 “bond” for building the shed without a permit in 2010 and for storing 11 aircraft on the site.

VCAT also ordered Mr Ingersoll to stop using the shed as a hangar and remove any aircraft.

Mr Cowley told the council in April that a VCAT order to remove the shed “was deferred pending broader consideration of issues relating to the Tyabb airfield and is no longer in force”.

In her candidate’s statement on the Victorian Electoral Commission website, Ms Dixon says, that if elected she will “ensure there is open and transparent consultation processes for the Baxter township and Tyabb airport precinct plans”.

First published in the Western Port News – 4 October 2016

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