Tag listing: Stirling

Petrol power

The news that Agostino Always AM/PM has planning approval to build a petrol station on the old Shell site in Stirling’s main street means something can finally be done with a high profile location that has become an eyesore in the past five years.
Not that businessman Frank Agostino could do much about the delay after he bought the site more than four years ago.
He had to wait on Shell to finish its rehabilitation work and then he had to go through the planning process – first with the Adelaide Hills Council and then the State Government.
It’s been a long haul and while Mr Agostino might be pleased his battle with bureaucracy is finally approaching the end, others in the community are not so pleased about the process itself.
It is galling that yet another service station proposal has been “called in” by the State Government as a major project of “economic significance”, bypassing the assessment of the independent planning authorities of local councils.
A single petrol station is not a project of significant economic importance to SA.
However, a staggering number of them have been called in by the State Co-ordinator-General and then passed by the Development Assessment Commission (DAC).
A fuel business was inevitable at this site and its existing use rights have always been acknowledged by planning authorities, and a neighbor.
What has been in question is the design and operation of the larger, modern development, which is not the same as the old petrol station.
The reasons why the council’s Development Assessment Panel deferred the original application twice and then knocked it back was not because it was a “service station” but because members wanted the applicant to tweak the design to better fit the development plan and get a better result for the community.
The applicants made some concessions  before heading to the State Government and the DAC for the result they wanted.
This all goes to show that the development plan in itself is not sufficient protection for community interests.
But get used to it because the way Planning Minister John Rau is streamlining the planning process, community input will be further eroded.

A champion of the environment

Congratulations to Bob Myers of Birdwood for winning the individual Landcarer title at the recent SA Landcare Awards.
For many decades his name has been linked to vital habitat rehabilitation work and sustainable rural land work in the Upper River Torrens areas.
He has not only turned his own property into a haven for native plants and animals, he has shared his broad knowledge and his enthusiasm with his neighbors and the rest of SA and the nation.
At one time the Bob Myers of this world would have been seen as being on the fringe and they would have found it hard to get traction for their philosophies.
But now Landcare is definitely mainstream as we realise just how much our environment and our activities in that environment are irrevocably interlinked.
That’s where the accumulated experience of long-term “Landcarers” comes into its own as they pass on their knowledge and we gradually and sometimes painfully change the land management practices of the past.
People like Mr Myers don’t do these things for kudos, and they certainly don’t do them for money, but in the end we all benefit from their legacy.

Pageant success

The true value of community events was on display in Stirling on Saturday.
The Stirling Christmas Pageant and Spring Fair gave enormous joy to hundreds of children as well as adults.
That fact was obvious to everyone present … on both sides of the blue line.
From the schools, churches, community groups and businesses which entered ‘floats’ and took an active part in the pageant, to the several thousand people who lined the street to watch the passing parade, the pleasure on the faces of all those present was perfectly clear.
But what wasn’t so obvious was the way the pageant brought strangers together and helped bond them into a community.
This is often the unseen benefit of such events and, when combined with other activities such as community fetes, fairs and festivals, helps make living in the Hills a special experience.
The Stirling Pageant was under a cloud several years ago because of drunken behavior by a few during the evening format but the shift to a daytime event has proven that the joy of Christmas and the positive influence of the festive season is something worth fighting for.

Wright or wrong?

Evelyn Halliday Reserve off Wright Road at Stirling has been a public space since it was bequeathed to the Adelaide Hills Council.
But it wasn’t until a 0.8ha fenced dog park with car park was built in the 4ha reserve two years ago that the area really became popular. What was once an infrequently visited green space at the end of a no through road has now become a magnet for pet owners across the Hills.
It’s no wonder the householders on Wright Road are upset about suddenly losing their privacy and amenity.
The council’s response of setting daylight time limits on the park seems to be a reasonable solution to the problem, and one that most dog park users support.
It remains to be seen whether owners will comply with the 9am start on weekends and public holidays and whether the residents will be satisfied with the sunset closure, as opposed to the 7pm closure their petition requested.
One issue that should be addressed is the need for more dog parks to take the pressure off Wright Road – and not just in the Adelaide Hills Council area.
According to a council survey, up to 20% of park users are travelling from the Mt Barker Council district to use the facility, and they really want a dog park of their own in Mt Barker or Littlehampton.
Perhaps the councillors there should give some thought to the 30% of the population who own dogs in their area and provide a dog park, or at least some properly defined off leash areas.
At the moment off leash areas in Mt Barker are rather ambiguously mapped.

Change in attitude

The Inverbrackie detention facility is a fascinating example of how quickly public opinion can change.
Back in late 2010, when former Prime Minister Julia Gillard sprang the centre concept on the community, angry people packed two public meetings and spoke long and loudly about security concerns, falling property values and the erosion of services to locals.
Now there is an online petition started by a Mt Barker detention facility advocate to keep the site open.
And the Adelaide Hills Council is about to write to the local Federal MP Jamie Briggs and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to ask them to think twice about closing Inverbrackie because of the adverse economic impact the closure could have on the district.
However, the Government has made no secret of its intention to close the facility so this change of heart is likely to fall on deaf ears.

Alfresco dining

There’s something about eating outside that adds to the dining experience.
For some it’s the chance to indulge in the increasingly marginalised habit of smoking but for most people dining alfresco is a chance to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air, and perhaps even the view.
Restaurants and cafés also love alfresco dining.
It adds to the charm and profitability of their business and increases to the vibrancy of a retail strip.
But getting the design right can be tricky when the dining area in question is on a public footpath.
Different councils have different policies but in the main authorities have to take into account issues of convenience, safety and public access.
There are examples across the Hills where alfresco areas work well and there are examples where they do not.
Some places make pedestrians feel like they are walking into a front bar or cause them to question whether they are allowed to walk through at all.
The alfresco area being upgraded at The Locavore at Stirling does neither of those things but it has prompted a complaint from the Stirling District Residents Association.
The restaurant believes it is creating a level, safer and more sheltered area for diners and staff – that still gives open access to pedestrians.
The association is concerned that the “permanency” of the low walls, the steel frame and roof set a precedent that will destroy the green and leafy appearance of the streetscape as other businesses follow suit.
The Adelaide Hills Council says the design meets its plan for Stirling’s main street and all future alfresco designs will be considered on a case by case basis.
The question is, who arbitrates on something as variable as matters of taste when it comes to appearances?

Mushroom danger

The call from health authorities alerting people to the risks of gathering and eating wild mushrooms seems to be a warning delivered each autumn.
And with good reason. Two people in Canberra were killed last year after eating mushrooms they thought were harmless.
Some landholders have enjoyed eating wild mushrooms for generations without any problems.
But the dangers of gathering the fungi to the uninitiated are too great.
Much better to go for a bracing walk in the autumn chill of the Hills … and buy some on the way home. They’re not that expensive.

Dog debate

The dog on or off leash debate has been raging in Stirling Linear Park (SLP) for years.
In an ideal world last week’s Adelaide Hills Council decision not to revoke the on leash by-law in Stirling Park, part of the SLP, would signal the end of the matter.
Past history would indicate that is unlikely.
Councils come and go at elections and with the passion associated with this issue still burning, the SLP could be raised again if future councils have a different composition of elected members.
What is disappointing about this latest dog fight is that the process has done nothing to heal the poisonous divide between opposing sides.
In reality it has probably added to the dog lobby’s feeling of being disempowered and made the conservation lobby wary about the long-term future of its work in the SLP.
Councillors Linda Green and Andrew Stratford raise a good point.
Why go through the process of setting up an Animal Management Plan Advisory Group, putting in submissions and going through public consultation if the council isn’t even prepared to put their recommendations on the table for legitimate debate?
On the other hand, there’s no point debating a topic twice – just for the sake of appearances – if there isn’t enough support for an off leash recommendation in the first place.
A number of councillors expressed deep concerns at the meeting about the quality of the work produced by the advisory group which was tasked with producing guiding principles for dog access on council reserves.
That is concerning. Perhaps those councillors should join the advisory group and contribute to the work.
Some councillors said the advisory group’s brief was too focused on dogs and their owners and failed to address the recreational needs of the 70% of people who do not own dogs.
Some councillors felt that by suggesting off leash areas in the SLP and The Deanery at Bridgewater, the advisory group had overstepped the bounds of its responsibilities.
It probably would have been easier for the group to just set down guidelines and let the council fight out the implementation – reserve by reserve – but that would have ignored the huge amount of community feedback on both sides of the debate in the SLP and The Deanery.
The advisory group tried to find a workable solution.
The fact that its recommendation failed does not mean that there wasn’t merit in the attempt in the first place.
When it comes to the SLP, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Community garden takes shape

About 70 people turned up on Sunday to have their say on the design of Stirling’s new community garden.

Hills hotels enjoy industry success

Two Hills hotels were recognised at the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) SA Awards last week.

Demolition plan for asbestos buildings in Woorabinda

Environment volunteers fear buildings at Woorabinda reserve in Stirling are going to be demolished with no real plan to provide any replacement.

Tour de Hills

Mt Barker residents will have the chance to send off some of the world’s top cyclists after the town secured its first race start in the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under.

Stirling set to be NBN hub

Stirling is about to become a home for a National Broadband Network (NBN) Digital Hub.