By Bonny Burrows
An outraged Officer community may not be consulted on a proposal for a pub with 60 poker machines, just a few hundred metres from a local primary school.
Community fears the proposal would be approved without a period of public feedback may be a reality, with Cardinia Shire Council confirming the development is exempt from consultation due to its location.
The application – submitted to council on 24 January – outlines plans for a pub and 60 poker machines at 2 Station Street Officer, a site within the town’s Urban Growth Zone.
Cardinia Shire Council has not yet decided on the application’s outcome, but its acting coordinator of strategic and economic development, Tim Grace told the Gazette because of this, community consultation was not necessary.
Officer residents have slammed the “loophole”, saying a proposal of a gambling venue was of public interest, particularly when there were schools and childcare centres within walking distance.
Local resident Andrew McNabb said green-lighting the project would have detrimental effects on family welfare and the broader community.
The community had the right to be consulted, he said.
“Why would you put 60 poker machines in the middle of Victoria’s newest education hub?” Mr McNabb said.
“What are we teaching the children, that addictive machines are okay, that exploiting other people for money is okay?
“The very presence of these machines will teach our children all the wrong things.”
Officer Community Association secretary Mike Petrovich said the group was concerned about the introduction of more poker machines however its hands were tied.
“We obviously sympathise with those nearby the development but it’s really difficult to fight this because this is what the rules are, this is the state laws saying its okay,” Mr Petrovich said.
He said the group had previously taken a stance against a similar proposal which got through as it met government planning requirements.
“It makes it really difficult when it’s consistent with government planning, they can’t really say no,” Mr Petrovich said.
Mr Grace said council would consider the Cardinia Planning Scheme’s requirements in relation to gaming and its proximity to other businesses when determining the application’s outcome.
He did not signal when a decision was expected to be made.
“In assessing the application, council must take into account a variety of issues, which includes the impact of the proposal on the amenity of the area and surrounding land uses,” he said.
“The application is still under consideration and requires additional information from the applicant prior to any decision being determined.”
There are 363 poker machines across Cardinia Shire.