By MELISSA CUNNINGHAM
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GREATER Dandenong Council has knocked back a contentious application to build a telecommunication tower in Bangholme.
Councillors unanimously voted to reject the 31-metre Optus mobile phone tower at last Monday night’s council meeting, despite officers recommending its approval.
Cr Jim Memeti said the potential health risks the tower posed to residents in the future were too high.
“There hasn’t been any definite health risks identified yet but who is to say there won’t be in the next 40 years. We need to be careful, particularly when positioning something like this next to a school.”
If approved the tower would have been in River End Road, inside a green wedge zone – just over 400 metres from the nearest school building of St Leonard’s College’s Cornish campus and 245 metres from the nearest residence.
It also would have been the fifth monopole from a range of telcos all within a 2.5-kilometre radius.
Cr Memeti said he had spoken to Dandenong residents who could see all four mobile phone towers from their homes. “That in itself is very disturbing,” he said.
Cr Peter Brown called for the applicant to relocate the proposal. “This application was proposed for a green wedge zone so clearly fails to respect the current planning scheme,” he said.
St Leonard’s College principal Kerry Bolger said he was pleased councillors had stopped the proliferation of mobile towers near the school.
“It’s the green wedge. It’s supposed to be pristine. From a visual point of view, it will be good not to have another tower near us.”
The application received 14 objections from nearby residents citing health and amenity issues as well as a decrease in land value if the application were approved.
Optus’s consultant Aurecon has maintained that the tower would greatly improve the sending and receiving of data within a 35-kilometre radius of the tower and would not compromise the purpose of the green wedge zone.
An Optus spokeswoman said the issue was under review and it was uncertain if the company would appeal against the decision.