Wodonga councillors have been provided with a strong reminder of opposition towards proposed changes at Junction Place which could lead to a Dan Murphy's bottle shop being built in the former railway corridor.
Mayor Kevin Poulton, deputy mayor Graeme Simpfendorfer and councillors John Watson, Ron Mildren and Olga Quilty listened to a succession of speakers at a forum on Monday night ahead of the revised master plan for Junction Place being presented to their last meeting of 2021.
A separate planning permit application for the bottle shop is coming in February,
But fears were again raised about implications of approving the revised plan having on Dan Murphy's proposal for the corner of Elgin Boulevard and Smythe Street.
Former council director Michael Gobel said Wodonga residents didn't sign up for a bottle-shop in that space when Junction Place began being created more than a decade ago.
"The fundamental difference between this master-plan and the previous one is this one explicitly refers to retail on that corner," he said.
"That is the bit that creates the snooker for council if it approves this master-plan.
"It is disingenuous for Development Victoria to say there isn't much difference.
"One thing I know is this community, when it looked at the first master-plan, didn't sign up for a Dan Murphy's on that corner.
"It is the essence of the issue.
"Council's current role is custodians of previous councils' vision for Junction Place."
Michelle Cowan feared the outcome was already pre-determined based on the recent consultations conducted by Development Victoria and railway land developer in response to community angst.
"They delivered to us a fair accompli and were absolutely tone deaf to concerns raised," Ms Cowan.
"I felt they had alienated the community which they aimed to work with."
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Ms Cowan said community mistrust had been created from the outset.
"We had to find out about the changes or the proposition for a Dan Murphy's through an article in The Border Mail," she said.
"That was a great shock to the community.
"That was the first mistake council made and you lost our trust going forward."
A disconnect deepened when the revised master-plan was already submitted without community input, she said.
"It wasn't a public process It wasn't discussed with the community," she said.
"You've taken far too much licence by taking this out of our hands.
"Next week when you have that master-plan in front of you I implore you 'do not think this is not setting the pathway to a Dan Murphy's.
"If you approve this master-plan this is what we're going to get."
Cr Poulton said: "Councillors are looking at everything in front of them. They have the master-plan to deal with first.
"If you think councillors are blind or dumb you've got it wrong.
"They are well accustomed to what the community sentiment is."
Another objector Bobbi McKibbin described the consultations as a "sales pitch" and urged councillors to think hard about their vote.
"Please take your blinkers off and not just look at this from a councillor's position, but also as a community member," she said.
"That development is going to be there a hell of a lot longer than you are going to be in office for."
"In a non-emotive way people should have a really good look at the old master-plan and a really good look at the new one," he said.
"If you compare the two there is not a lot of difference.
"The biggest issue here is Dan Murphy's, not the master-plan around hotels, cinemas and everything else."
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