IN a case of deja vu, the Rebels Motorcycle Club will consider State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) mediation after City of Cockburn turned down its request to use a unit in Bibra Lake as a clubhouse.
The decision was made despite the Rebels having completed a two-year trial at the site and a City officer recommending the club be allowed to continue using the premises, with conditions.
The club has been based at the unit officially since 2014 after going through SAT to gain approval when its application was initially knocked back by council.
With a number of restrictions placed on the club – including capping the number of people allowed there at any one time to 25 and limiting its hours of operation – the approval was considered a compromise.
However, with the trial period lapsing, the club is now seeking permanent approval for use of the unit as a ‘club premises’ and also wants to increase the number of people allowed on site to 70.
In a deputation to council, club representative Mark Rodgers said more than $150,000 had been spent refurbishing the building and bringing it up to code, adding it “would be very rare” to have 70 people on site at any one time.
In a report to councillors, an officer said the City had “generally been satisfied with the use of the unit as a club premises”, adding it “had not detracted from the amenity of the area or resulted in complaints … by nearby tenants or landowners”.
Even so, the recommendation put before councillors was to support the club staying but with no change to the occupancy.
However, that was dismissed in favour of an alternative offered by councillor Steve Portelli, who found enough support from his colleagues to have it passed.
Cr Portelli motioned council refuse the application for the change of use of their current unit from factory to club premises.
“We have a duty to protect our residents,” he said.
“As the planning authority we should not turn our backs on the considerations of the urban amenity.
“Urban amenity is lives; lives will be put at risk.
“We’ve had bikie gang areas firebombed and shot at. That happens in our City of Cockburn.
“If we approve this and don’t do everything in our power to stop it we’re culpable in my opinion.”
Mr Rodgers told the Gazette the club would consider its options, with another period of SAT mediation likely.During the public consultation period for the proposal council received just two non-objections.
Cr Lee-Anne Smith argued that figure did not represent how the community felt, with many too scared to put their concerns in writing.
“There are a vast number of people in the community who want this alternative to be put forward and it’s our duty to adopt the alternative recommendation,” she said.
Cr Bart Houwen said the recommendation put forward by the City officer was “the smartest way to handle it”.
“We should be managing this situation,” he said.
“The way the officers are doing it is by putting conditions on so it mitigates against anything happening.”
Mayor Logan Howlett also backed the officer’s recommendation, saying it was well presented.
“Neighbours of this locality have been contacted; there’s been no objections,” he said.
“I move around the community seven days a week and I’ve never heard one single comment with regard to this single matter.”
But Cr Smith told the Gazette she felt the Mayor was shying away from the issue.
“I know he’s out and about but he’s out of touch,” she said.
“Nobody complained (about the application) but nobody supported it either.”