Voting to refuse the construction of a house on a farm in the Loddon Shire has been the most difficult decision of her time on council, says Cr Linda Jungwirth.
Her comment came at the shire's council meeting this week during discussion on a permit application to build a house on a property on Newbridge Road, Newbridge within the shire's Farming Zone.
The establishment of the house would also require a new road access onto the Wimmera Highway.
A farm management plan was submitted with the application which indicated increasing the Angus beef production on the property. The plan also talks about fattening lambs and cropping and the installation of mobile steel cattle yards.
The application received two objections, one from a nearby quarry concerned the proximity of the house would affect its operations.
Council officers put forward a recommendation to grant the planning permit to build the house, but Cr Jungwirth moved an alternative motion to refuse it.
Cr Jungwirth said the proposal was contrary to the state and local planning policy in relation to protection of agricultural land, a house on less than 100 hectares of land was contrary to the Farming Zone and the house would not be compatible with adjoining uses in the area.
In speaking to her motion, Cr Jungwirth said it was "an incredibly difficult decision".
"As a councillor our policies clearly supports agriculture and we also strongly support local businesses, particularly those providing employment locally," she said.
"This particular site is surrounded by existing successful businesses.
"I can see a possibility for future problems for those businesses if this permit is granted.
"While I would love to see the applicants harmoniously farming alongside these existing businesses, I'm not sure this would happen."
Cr Neil Beattie seconded Cr Jungwirth's motion to refuse the permit.
Cr Beattie said while he sympathised with the people building a house on a farm they liked, the buffer zone between neighbours was not great enough to ensure conflicts did not arise.
"(Particularly ) when you've got heavy industrial gear operating in the proximity," he said.
Cr Gavan Holt also spoke in favour of the motion to refuse, although he did so reluctantly.
"It's a very difficult decision that will have long lasting implications for Loddon," Cr Holt said.
"In my view, it is very clearly an economic development issue versus a planning issue.
"Council has given clear directions to our planning officers that we are pro development.
"We want to see more people moving into in Loddon Shire as the proponent have. We want to see people building dwellings in Loddon and economic development.
"This is certainly a proposal to enhance a piece of farm land in Loddon into a more highly productive area of land."
However, Cr Holt said objectors had pointed out it could be contrary to economic development with possible future objections arising around activities in the area.
"If we were to grant this, we would need to have a closer reconsideration of the Loddon planning scheme," he said.
Cr Holt said council had already undertaken a massive community consultation process when it reviewed its rural zones.
The goals of the review was to protect the shire's best farm land and open up areas to rural living opportunities.
He said building houses on less than 100ha was not prohibited under the planning scheme, as long as there was a permit to meet conditions such as access, power, water, waste disposal and effluent which the proponents have clearly met.
Cr Holt said the proponents had submitted "an ambitious farm management plan" with their application.
He said many allotments in the south of the shire in the farming zone, in the old mining areas, that are under 100ha where building permits have been granted in the past.
He said those areas were compromised as farming areas, but this was not the case in this situation.
"This is a line ball, situation that could go either way," Cr Holt said.
"I came here today open minded on the matter but we have to make a decision."
Cr Holt said he was concerned that granting the permit would create expectations for landowners on less than 100ha that council had set a precedent to build a dwelling on it.
"It would be opening up issues that can only be addressed if we revisit the planning scheme," he said.
Mayor Cr Dan Straub wanted it on record he was opposed to the motion to refuse the permit and wanted to support the original recommendation to allow the house to be built.
Cr Jungwirth said it was the most difficult decision she has had to make since her time on council.
"There's no joy in saying no to people who are planning their lives and would like to make a go of things in Loddon but for the reasons I've outlined, that's where I sit," she said.
Cr Jungwith, Cr Beattie, Cr Holt and Cr Wendy Murphy all voted in favour and Cr Straub voted against.
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