By VINNIE RODI

‘PEOPLE power’ prevailed for Irymple residents when Mildura Rural City Councillors voted on Tuesday night to refuse a planning permit for construction of an advertising billboard on the corner of Fifteenth Street and Karadoc Avenue.

The application, made by Melbourne-based company Total Outdoor Media, proposed to construct a 12.66 metre wide and six metre high major promotion sign in the area.

It was the intent of Total Outdoor Media to use the sign to advertise local business interests and potentially attract larger clients, like the Transport Accident Commission, to utilise the site.

Irymple residents, led by Tracey Meyer and Andy Schmidt, launched a letter and social media campaign last month calling on Council to refuse the proposal, saying the billboard would negatively affect the character of the immediate area, and would add “little or no visual interest.”

Council received a total of 159 objections to the proposal prior to Tuesday’s vote, with other concerns raised including safety and traffic issues.

Council’s planning department, prior to Tuesday’s vote, had recommended a permit be granted for the development subject to a number of conditions.

Cr Jason Modica, PICTURED, instead moved a motion to refuse the proposal, and was unanimously supported by his colleagues.

Cr Modica said that the Irymple community “clearly believes this will affect the amenity of the area,” and that Council had a duty to listen to those concerned residents.

Cr Modica also indicated that Total Outdoor Media may choose to challenge Council’s decision through the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

“Which is their right to do so,” he said.

Both Total Outdoor Media and objectors to the proposal were given the opportunity to present to Council at a Planning Forum last week, with Mildura and District Rural City Residents and Ratepayers Association president, Joyce Wisneske, also speaking out against the proposal.

“I surveyed the site and can definitely see the problem, as this sign is going to be gigantic,” she said. “I think it is a stupid place to even be entertaining the thought of putting a sign of that dimension there.

“It could create a precedent for more signs like this to be erected.”

Ms Meyer was among those to address Council at the Planning Forum, and further highlighted issues around the planning department’s “lack of community consultation about the proposal,” while also highlighting the planning department’s “failure to formulate and apply the correct planning overlay to protect us.”

Total Outdoor Media was contacted for comment regarding Council’s decision. No response was received by the Mildura Weekly before going to print.