mitty
Jun 14, 2018

DSRA Submission

12 comments

I am a member of the Dolphin Sands Ratepayers Association (DSRA).

The committee has published on the DSRA website a copy of its submission to council on the Cambria Green rezoning application. The submission is said to be based on the views expressed by the 71 respondents who participated in a survey conducted by DSRA.

The committee advised that after the completion of the survey it would not consult members on the submission to be forwarded to Council.

Having read the submission I wish, as a single respondent to the survey, to make it known to all respondents that the submission supports the SAP with amendments. I strongly disagree with this outcome and encourage members of DSRA that are not aligned with this decision to send an immediate email to Council divorcing yourself from the submission.

It does not in my view reflect the views of the community overall and does not accurately reflect the survey results.

The submission appears to be predicated on the assumption that the SAP will be approved and seeks some amendments and assurances. The reality is that a substantial part of the community is not supportive of the SAP proposal and I think it is reasonable to say that sentiment is reflected in the survey results.

Mitty Williams

Cambria Drive

Dolphin Sands

Scott Ragg
Jun 14, 2018

Not sure I agree with you Mitty. Plenty of passionate voices on both sides. I don't think there is a clear community consensus and my reading of the survey can only find very conditional support for the SAP on P3 where it says "many residents are supportive of the development to the extent that it is managed appropriately". Based on the survey results, that's a fair conclusion to draw, and its far from a ringing endorsement. There is not the evidence for the DSRA to take a polarising position on either side of the debate.

 

I have a personal view about the development that is a bit stronger and more specific than the DSRA submission, so, like you, I made my own submission. There was a remedy available to us, and we used it.

 

The Committee were never going to be able to keep every member happy with their submission as the views are just too strongly held by both sides of the debate with a spectrum of support in the middle. Not really fair to have a crack at them for trying to put an evidence-based position in the face of such conflicting data, especially when there is a remedy available by putting in a personal submission.

Brett Harrison
Jun 15, 2018

The survey failed to ask the question -are you supportive of the proposal?- As a result it has been left to an interpretation of the results on the questions asked to decide whether there is support for the proposal or not.

My interpretation of the results is that there is overall not support for the proposal.

However DSRA is entitled to form its own view.

As Scott has quoted from the DSRA submission " many residents are supportive of the development to the extent that it is managed appropriately" . This is at best all DSRA could say and all it should have said.

The DSRA submission includes a number of suggestions for amendment to the SAP and seeks certain assurances, none of which as far as I am aware have been canvassed by DSRA with the community.

There has been an individual who is not a member of the DSRA committee who has advocated on FB for such amendments and assurances and it seems strange that DSRA appears to have incorporated those suggestions into its submission without any regard for whether those suggestions were supported by the community.

mitty
Jun 15, 2018

Hi Scott

My post was not meant as a personal attack on the DSRA, just a comment on the conclusions that were drawn from the survey and then included as part of the submission. As there are clearly differences of opinion within the community about the SAP, the survey results were never going to deliver a consensus on the issue. Therefore I think the DSRA should have just included the survey results in their submission and not added their own conclusion that the SAP would be acceptable, with amendments.

I agree with you regarding personal submissions and have put my own in.

 

mitty
Jun 15, 2018

Hi Brett

That is exactly my point that the survey failed to include a question on whether respondents supported the proposal or not. Not being a FB user I cannot comment on DSRA's use of someone's suggestions on amendments and assurances, but as I said in my original post, I fail to see how they came to the conclusion that the majority of members would be happy with the SAP with amendments from the survey results.

Grant Andrews
Jun 15, 2018

yes, it didnt include the simple question, for or against the proposal. I answered the survey as best I could and did not want to respond positively on every issue. I would have had more confidence in my responses should i have had the initial option of being for or against. My main concern was the airstrip and flight path but that does not mean I dont support the development since I do. I like to think there will be enough spinoff for the Swansea township that the contractions of a dying community might be reversed.

Scott Ragg
Jun 15, 2018

Thanks Mitty, Brett and Grant. I agree, there were parts of the SAP I had no issue with, and parts I was opposed to. I have no idea how to translate that into a binary "Yes or No" as to whether I support the SAP in a survey question. If I say Yes I am choosing to not voice my opposition, if I say No, then I am throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

 

With hindsight, I think the DSRA members have expected too much of their committee in wanting them to put together a representative submission, given the polarised views evident in the community with various degrees of conditional support (or opposition) in between. In trying to meet this expectation, there has been a personal toll to our committee members and some damaged friendships up and down the peninsula. for what I now view was an impossible task. I don't think any of them took on the volunteer job expecting that to be an outcome.

 

As someone who spends all day making risk-based decisions, I truly hate hindsight. Where I went wrong is blindingly obvious after the s@#t has hit the fan, but none of the newly minted experts were providing advice when critical decisions had to be made.

 

Mitty has echoed the comments of another ratepayer I was talking to this afternoon. Maybe next time, we as members need to ask our committee to just make the information accessible to us, provide us with an expert report or 2, maybe do a survey and provide the results to us, but leave it up to individuals to make submissions on their own behalf.

Grant Andrews
Jun 15, 2018Edited: Jun 15, 2018

During the last few days as a committee member I strongly pointed out that the presentation to the GSBC of the survey in fact represented just one response to the SAP. Therefore, I suggested individuals should be encouraged to also send council individual representation. Infact i did so myself using the Stop The Sap document they supplied for public use.

But the devils in the detail and, with apologies for maybe mis use of the said document, I forwarded it in support of the SAP.

I am terrible, not afraid to say what I believe but pleased with my reputation amongst ex committee members as chief headkicker! Unfortunately most of them dont wear bullet proof vests!

robyn.moore
Jun 15, 2018

Thanks Scott, I think a constructive conversation on refining survey methods is really useful. I’d argue that there’s always room for improvement.

 

One topic to consider is the benchmark that has to be achieved for results to be considered valid in terms of demonstrating community support/opposition. The DSRA submission relied on results of 51% or higher. Perhaps 51% is too low and the benchmark should be 60% or higher.

 

An alternative measure to assess the validity of results is in terms of the difference between levels of agreement and disagreement. For example, a result of 51% for and 49% against is obviously not a valid indication of community sentiment, but what if the result was 54% for and 20% against (with the remainder undecided)? Could that be considered valid?

 

This issue has come up in the discussion about the DSRA’s constitution (Rules of the Association). In the past, a simple majority was the benchmark for a motion. However, the current draft has changed this to 66% in the hope that situations where the community is fairly evenly divided, no motions can be carried.

 

If the community decided on 60% as the level needed to indicate community support, the following results would have been omitted from the submission:

 

· concern about the impact of increased tourist numbers: agree* 51%; disagree 23%

· support the idea of an 18-hole golf course in Dolphin Sands: agree 51%; disagree* 30%

· concern about proximity of the golf course to Moulting Lagoon: agree* 54%; disagree 18%

· concern about noise pollution during construction & operation: agree* 55%; disagree 18%

· concern about overall size of the proposed development: agree* 56%; disagree 17%

· airstrip to be moved so it is further away from existing dwellings: agree* 58%; disagree 10%

 

If 66% was the benchmark, the results below would also be omitted:

· concern about the golf course’s potential impact on wildlife: agree* 61%; disagree 15%

· use of golf course as a nearby safer place during bushfire: agree* 61%; disagree* 18%

· concern about the visual impact of the proposed development: agree* 62%; disagree 15%

 

Note that none of these results would have been excluded if the benchmark for being considered a valid indicator was at least 20% difference between agree and disagree. A 30% difference would have excluded concern about the impact of increased tourist numbers and support for an 18-hole golf course.

 

My reading of the above is that the committee had fairly unambiguous results to inform our submission. While there may be room to refine benchmarks in future surveys, overall, I think the results are valid indications of community sentiment. As such, I don’t agree that the association’s role should be limited to providing information. The association’s role is to act as the representative voice of the community. As I understand it, you base your suggestion on the Cambria proposal being a polarising issue and I take your point. However, I’m not aware of any issues in our community that aren’t polarising. So, extending your argument, would imply that the association doesn’t act on any issue (although I realise you’re not suggesting this).

 

Thinking through these issues has raised concerns for me about the 66% benchmark in the draft rules of the association (constitution). I’m concerned that none of the results indicated above would have been carried at a meeting if we accepted 66% as the cut-off. Perhaps this figure is too high. Arguably, a measure of difference between support and opposition would be preferable (say at least 25% difference). This latter option would prevent a motion being carried in situations where the community is fairly evenly divided, while not setting the bar for agreement so high that widely held concerns are unable to be acted upon.

Scott Ragg
Jun 16, 2018

Hi Robyn,

 

I agree that the results were unambiguous. You are right in the benchmark for acceptance/rejection by the DSRA is the missing link, and I would say that there was not the time to develop and gain community agreement (or at least recognition) on a benchmark in time for the Cambria submission. I think that's' why Brett, Mitty and I can read the same data set and reach differing conclusions. Its not a criticism of the committee or the methodology, I think it was an impossible task in the circumstances. The 6 weeks was just too short a time in this case to negotiate a benchmark with the members, especially in the heat of the debate.

 

As well as the benchmarks, there needs to be an appreciation of how the undecideds/neutrals are allocated or treated. In some of the examples above there is 30-40% "neutral/undecided" that will affect most benchmark targets. Under a 20% difference benchmark, 40% Agree/20% Disagree with 40% neutral/undecided would see a position reached despite there not being majority support at face value. Similarly, the 66% target can fail where there is clear majority support, as in the 3 examples you provided where there was a 20% neutral/undecided. Neither are good outcomes. Benchmarks need a level of nuancing as they can deliver poor outcomes when used as a blunt instrument.

 

The discussion around the constitution may help. I share your concerns around the 66% target as being too high and a small, well organised cabal can effectively block anything. How abstentions are handled would also need to be figured into any benchmark. I don't have any answers I'm afraid, but look forward to the discussion as its an important one.

 

I also agree that the DSRA should be providing the representative voice, but at the moment the members aren't agreed on what level of agreement constitutes the representative bit. Its an important conversation for us to have as I reckon the SAP is a done deal (Tassal Mk II) and there will be plenty of DA's for Discretionary Use that will require DSRA representation.

 

Thanks again for all of your work on the survey and the submission, it is appreciated.

 

 

Grant Andrews
Jun 16, 2018

Most interesting breakdown of the survey, good job! Since the revised constitution has not yet been put to a meeting would it not be wise to suggest an alteration? Brett Harison often mentions the hope of some feedback.

robyn.moore
Jun 16, 2018

Thanks Scott. I've created a new discussion topic on benchmarks. I've kicked it off by cutting & pasting from this thread. I hope the conversation can progress there

tascarzi
Oct 3

Here here Mitty. Well said

New Posts
  • Brett Harrison
    Oct 3

    This is my second attempt to create a post on this article. My first attempt was disconnected. The article is inaccurate, it fails for the same reasons it purports to accuse opponents of. The overlay previously published in the Mercury is accurate. It sets out the total area that the SAP relates to. There has been no DA submitted by the proponent so no-one knows what is proposed within the SAP area if it is passed. The proponent has released a concept plan, that is all. DSRA committee does not represent the views of members in the published article, the article represents the views of a number of committee members, not the membership. There has been no consultation by DSRA committee of membership as to their views on the proposal. All that has occurred is a rather "shonkie" survey of members , with a limited response to some very vague and slanted questions. It appears based on these responses certain elements of the committee have seen fit to advocate on behalf of the proponent to the detriment of the community they were elected to represent. I note that it is proposed to hold an AGM sometime in October to consider changes to the Rules of the Association. This meeting may well be an appropriate forum for the Committee to properly ascertain community views on the Cambria Green proposal. In the absence of the committee being prepared to properly embrace community views then a motion of no confidence and a spill motion would be appropriate.
  • Ross Irving
    Oct 3

    The DSRA committee’s open letter to its membership raises some interesting questions. It includes the following statement: “The DSRA committee’s role, as guided by our constitution, is ‘to use the Association’s best endeavours to safeguard the interests of ratepayers within the territory’.” The DSRA constitution includes the following The objects and purpose of the Association shall be:- a. To establish a no-political and non-sectarian Ratepayers Association to provide a forum for its members. b. To promote and develop civic pride in the Territory. c. To use the Associations best endeavours to safeguard the interests of the Ratepayers within the Territory. d. To promote acceptable development in the Territory. e. To take such action in respect of all the foregoing objects and purposes as shall be resolved by the Association. The constitution does not appear to make the committee responsible for safeguarding the interests of the ratepayers within the territory, or for deciding what these interests might be. It seems quite clear that it should be up to the association’s membership to decide what is in its best interest and what action should be undertaken to safeguard it. While the constitution does give the President and the Secretary / Treasurer the power to run the day to day matters of the Association, I’m finding it a bit of a stretch to see how this delegated authority extends to advocating in favour of the Cambria SAP with amendments. I am also unaware that anything has been resolved by the association regarding negotiating with the proponents. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the DSRA resolving to negotiate some of the contentious details of the SAP with the proponents. It’s just that we (the members) haven’t. The open letter also makes the following statement: “Stopping the SAP supports the broader anti-development agenda of green groups but doesn't serve the interests of our community.” The DSRA constitution clearly establishes that our association is a non-political association. The political opinions of our membership are likely to include views that cross the entire political spectrum. Our organisation has been formed to represent all its members regardless of their political affiliations. In making the generalisation, as the committee has, that green groups have anti-development agenda’s and therefore their opinions are somehow not in the best interests of our community, you appear to be making a political statement that would disenfranchise a sizable proportion of our membership. You ask us, as members, to consider if we understand what stopping the SAP might mean. You say that: “As explained on the Council website, most of the development envisaged in the concept plan in the vicinity of Dolphin Sands and Cambria can occur without the SAP amendment. This includes accommodation, the golf course and rezoning the land surrounding the Cambria homestead.” What the Council’s Planning Officer’s report actually says is: “ It should be noted that many of the uses envisaged by the Cambria SAP can be considered under existing zones consistent with this policy position.” You then advise us that: “The use standards in the SAP (eg. building heights) are consistent with the current planning scheme.” Really? The current planning scheme is the Glamorgan Spring Bay Interim Planning Scheme. Many of the directives included in the SAP (building height, setbacks, subdivision allotment sizes etc.) are definitely not consistent with the current planning scheme. They have in fact been drawn from the future Tasmanian Planning Scheme SPP, which has not yet been implemented – and which uses a different zoning scheme (according to the draft LPS zoning maps submitted to the Tasmanian Planning Commission by GSBC). Obviously a SAP is not necessary for a rezoning application, and some of the development ideas outlined in the masterplan might be able to be considered under the current planning scheme. However, as there is currently no development application (and Mr Hu has openly stated that any future development application will likely include few of the elements shown in the masterplan), we have no idea what the proponents are actually considering. It would be naive in the extreme to think that the proponents would have gone to this much effort and expense if they did not intend to take advantage of the relaxations to the current planning scheme this Cambria SAP will deliver. Ross & Robyn Irving
  • colin.stevenson2
    Jun 30, 2018

    As financial members of the DSRA, we would advise that the views expressed in your Open Letter are not our view and for this reason we made our earlier decision to not take part in the survey, as is our right. It was apparent from the survey questions, that it assumed an approval of the SAP with or without amendments. Further we find it extremely insulting to question whether we know the intent behind the Specific Area Plan Proposal. We along with many other community members have taken part in discussions, carried out our own extensive research and received professional advice on what the implications of this proposal are and based on this, we have made our informed decision. Maureen and Colin Stevenson

© 2018 by DSRA. Photos taken by members of the Dolphin Sands Community Network Facebook group

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