'Interaction' with developers sparks council debate
CONCERNS "innocent" conversations would lead to breaching a code of conduct had Gladstone councillors reluctant this week to support a change to how they communicate with developers.
Councillors voted against changing the wording of one part of its new development interaction protocol policy, which prohibited "interactions" with people who had lodged a development application.
Councillor PJ Sobhanian said he did not know every development application lodged in real time.
"It's an innocent situation but you would be breaching that conduct ... now you have black and white, this is prohibited and inappropriate conduct," he said.
An also concerned Cr Kahn Goodluck used an example of a resident stopping him while he was buying milk
Cr Kahn Goodluck worried what would be classified as an "interaction".
He gave an example of a resident stopping him at the supermarket and mentioning a current development application that he did not have prior knowledge of.
"I have no doubt we handle ourselves with the most integrity, but I just don't want to adopt a policy where we might breach a code of conduct unintentionally," Cr Goodluck said.
Chief executive officer Roslyn Baker said the revised policy was not designed to restrict councillors from talking to residents, but to provide clearer and more concise rules about discussions with developers.
She said it was important for councillors to make people aware as soon as possible that development application discussions must be organised through the planning department.
"You're restricted from having a meeting with a developer with a live DA ... it's not restricting you from talking to the community," she said.
After a lengthy debate the council decided to keep a similar condition from the 2016 policy, which states meetings with councillors regarding developments need to be lodged and coordinated through the development services.