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Council adopts new local law with changes

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Council’s new General Local Law 2020 was adopted at its Ordinary Council Meeting this week, with some changes in response to community feedback.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Mount Alexander Shire Council’s new General Local Law 2020 was adopted at its Ordinary Council Meeting this week, with some changes in response to community feedback.

The General Local Law 2020 includes laws that relate to amenity on private property and in public places, animal and waste management, the protection of environments, infrastructure and assets, permits, and how Council administers and enforces the laws. It replaces the existing Local Laws No. 2 to 6 and the Local Law Procedures Manual, which are due to expire in November this year.

“Council received and reviewed more than 200 submissions as part of this consultation, and we have considered these very carefully,” said Christine Henderson, Mayor of Mount Alexander Shire.

“We have made numerous changes and improvements to the final drafting of the local law, which will soften areas that impact traders, the tiny home movement, and users of recreational vehicles.”

“With regards to the use of recreational vehicles, Council has made an amendment to instead focus the law on managing the nuisance impacts from recreational vehicles, rather than prescribing times of day when people can or cannot use recreational vehicles.”

“This approach was informed by community feedback, and recognises issues of nuisance behaviour on a case-by-case basis, allowing for varying degrees of tolerance within the community regarding recreational vehicles,” said Mayor Henderson.

Amendments also relate to the proposal to require traders to remove items from the property line (on a Council footway) to create a clear and safe access along the footpath.

“Based on conversations with traders, and from legal advice received regarding Council's responsibilities under the Federal Disability Discrimination Act, Council’s law seeks to provide a consistent, clear pathway, but is less prescriptive with respect to how traders can comply.

“Some businesses have a fire hydrant located on their kerb, or metal grates, which impede their ability to move items from the property line to that area.”

“Council will work directly with traders during the permit process to ensure goods can be displayed on footways in a safe manner that provides clear and consistent pedestrian access, without unreasonably impacting or constraining traders,” said Mayor Henderson.

Council has also made changes to the local law that regulates and enables tiny houses to be located temporarily on private land, following strong feedback from the tiny home community.

“With respect to regulating tiny homes, Council is in a difficult position in that we need to balance community concerns and interests with the requirements of state planning and building laws,” said Mayor Henderson.

The General Local Law 2010 allows camping and caravanning, which includes the temporary accommodation of a tiny house on wheels, to occur for up to six weeks in a calendar year before a Local Law permit is required.

“Our community were very vocal about this issue, and as a result we have made an amendment to increase this to six months in a calendar year, with a permit, so long as there is an existing dwelling on the land. If special circumstances can be demonstrated we will allow a permit extension in six monthly increments up to 24 months.”

Allowing one Local Law permit to be issued for a defined period of six months does not allow the activity to occur on a permanent basis, avoiding conflicts with the domain of the planning system, and various potential land use definitions within the Planning Scheme.

“Council recognises that the issue of how to accommodate tiny homes within our current Local Laws framework is an incredibly important issue for many residents, for a range of reasons.

“We are taking that feedback on board, and will be developing an advocacy plan for the Victorian Government and local MPs to support innovative changes in the future.”

Council will be recommending reforms be made to recognise tiny houses on wheels as a separate land use activity in the planning system and Building Regulations, enabling the assessment of their permanent use and occupation in a range of settings across the state.
A recommendation will also be made to allow the value of such dwellings to be included in the calculation of rates.

“Thank you to all residents who shared their thoughts as part of this consultation,” said Mayor Henderson.

“It’s been a truly collaborative process in developing and revising the General Local Law 2020, and while there is still further work to be done, it’s a step in the right direction,” said Mayor Henderson.

Minor administrative amendments were also made to various clauses to increase clarity and operational effectiveness of certain provisions.

The General Local Law 2020 will come into operation within 14 days of its publication in the Victorian Government Gazette on Thursday 24 September 2020.

The General Local Law 2020 will soon be available on Council's website.

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