INSTEAD of following an officer’s recommendation, which would have allowed Shalom House to operate from 157 Park St, Henley Brook, City of Swan councillors instead voted to reject the rehab centre’s proposal on planning grounds.
At the council’s general meeting on Wednesday, July 4 the councillors were in a tied vote on an alternate motion put forward by Swan Valley Gidgegannup ward councillor Charlie Zannino until Mayor David Lucas used his casting vote to decide the issue.
The decision means that Shalom House can take the issue back to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT), which will make a final decision.
After the meeting Shalom House chief executive officer and founder Peter Lyndon-James, who is also a City of Swan councillor, posted on Facebook about his disappointment in a post titled Back to court we go.
While summing up his alternate motion Cr Zannino, who was recently appointed the Swan Valley Planning Committee chairman said he was against the proposed change of use for Shalom House to community purpose because the development application did not comply with planning laws and there were bushfire and vehicle parking issues.
He disagreed with SAT’s description that Shalom House was a community purpose as it was not open to the community 24hr a day.
He said Shalom House was a private facility and one that people had to apply to attend.
His alternate motion said the council should resolve to refuse to grant approval for the proposed change of use of grouped dwelling to community purpose for 157 Park St, Henley Brook for two reasons.
One was the use was considered to be inconsistent with objective a) of the rural residential zoning applicable to the land in that it is not a low density residential use.
The second reason was the use was considered to be inconsistent with planning objectives 2 and 3 for proposed development with area A of the Swan Valley Planning Act 1995 in that it was not viticulture, horticulture, hobby farming, tourism or another rural activity.
Cr Zannino’s motion said the city should advise Shalom House that the council gave notice it had 12 months from the date of the council’s decision to cease use of the premises for community purpose.
The motion also said that city staff would work with Shalom House to help it relocate from the premises to another more suitable location.
After a question from Pearce ward councillor Patty Jones, Cr Zannino said the assistance did not include a financial contribution from the city.
On Facebook Cr Lyndon-James said the issue had started when there were only 17 men in his program.
“The City of Swan issued me with a directions notice to shut it down,’’ he said.
“I asked them would they talk to me about an alternate location and they said no, either fight the directions notice or shut it down.
“Right from the beginning and the whole way through all I wanted to do was to talk about alternate locations for us to move to but they just took the stance, ‘Let the courts decide’, meanwhile we grew over time to 140 men, not to mention all the staff and volunteers and after a Supreme Court Hearing as well as many SAT hearings we won at the SAT.
“Tonight when it went up to the council it was knocked back by the City of Swan 7 to 6, some of those councillors who used to be for us are now against us because I was left with no other choice to speak out as we were getting too big and I needed help, they copped the flack and have obviously been offended and have had a change of heart.
“But now, how do I move 140 men, we are self-funded for crying out loud.
“All my staff have moved into the area, if you had of talked four years ago it would have been easy, but now?
“I have always been happy to move or relocate but they never engaged.
“I believe it should always be communication first and courts as a last option.
“Well it looks like we are going back to court, SAT here we come again, more ratepayer dollars down the drain.’’
City of Swan Mayor David Lucas said the application and decision to refuse Shalom House’s application had been given full consideration.
Cr Lucas said Shalom House one of the most difficult decisions to come before the council in decades.
“We will respect the council’s decision on this matter and continue to support Shalom House to help them provide the care and support offered to their patrons,” he said.
Cr Lyndon-James excused himself from last night’s meeting during the deliberations due to his financial interest.
“By reconsidering the classification, the matter will now be heard again by SAT in August.”
By Anita McInnes