AN application to open a tavern with an extended liquor licence in Main St, Mornington should be “called in” by Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors, according to Mornington MP David Morris.
The term refers to the occasional government practice where a minister “calls in” a project or proposal being considered by a council and makes the decision for it, thereby overriding the normal planning process.
Mr Morris wants to ensure councillors and not council officers decide if Mornington should get a tavern.
“I don’t normally stick my nose in, but I am concerned that the community is not aware of what is proposed … council needs to provide leadership.”
His call has been echoed by Cr Bev Colomb who said Mornington was at “over capacity” with late-night venues whose patrons often caused problems. “The police do a great job and they have put a lot of resources in managing them,” she said.
Mr Morris said the application for the tavern at 39A Main St, formerly La Porchetta, would substantially change the character and role of the site.
“The proposal [for the tavern] is a significant change from the existing use, and should not be determined solely by council planners.”
Mr Morris said that while there would be no extension to the hours of operation: 11am-1am Sunday to Thursday, and 11am-3am Friday and Saturday, a “significant variation of the existing conditions is proposed because the condition that the predominant activity must be the preparation and service of meals would be removed. Also, the requirement to provide seating for 75 per cent of patrons would also be removed and there would be a variation to the permitted volume of live or recorded music.”
Mr Morris said the applicant’s stated intention was to operate “an upmarket wine bar late into the late hours of the evenings – a relatively low-key use.”
He believes the proposed variations “would permit a range of entirely different and potentially more disruptive uses”.
“It is essential that the Mornington community has an opportunity to address their elected councillors directly before a final decision is taken,” Mr Morris said.
“I urge councillors to call in the application and to deal with it at a public meeting of the council.”
Cr Bev Colomb said she too wanted councillors to decide the issue.
“If [the venue] has an impact on the social activities of the whole community then we should have a good look at it,” she said, adding that the shire had previously called in other applications that “impact on the community”.
She said she would prefer to wait to hear the views of shire planners and the police, who would normally assess applications from venues selling liquor.
“At the moment it is with the planners so they may not approve it,” she said.
“Also, the thing about calling in proposals such as this is that we get to consider all aspects, such as the late-night culture and the amenity ramifications for residents, but we have to be fair to the applicant.”