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As an elected member, you may feel conflicted when it comes to carrying out your responsibilities as a member of a planning authority. On the one hand, you were elected by the community to represent the community’s views. On the other hand, when it comes to land-use planning matters, you are obliged to make decisions based on the municipal area’s planning scheme. And on occasion, there are constituents who object to the land-use planning decisions made by elected members in line with the planning scheme.
Planning is concerned with the public good, not private interests. Planning schemes are developed to reflect community aspirations for the future of their municipal area. If you genuinely believe that the planning scheme is allowing inappropriate development, then the appropriate course of action is to seek changes to the planning scheme.
There are likely to be occasions when you have no option but to approve developments that are consistent with the planning scheme, even though there is considerable dissatisfaction in the community. In such situations, it is important to understand that by virtue of election to a council, you are also fulfilling a role and a responsibility in accordance with the State’s planning legislation. Therefore, in carrying out that responsibility you are bound to take a broader and longer-term view of things – perhaps to the detriment of individual constituents.
It is important that you talk with your constituents and explain to them that you are bound by the law to make decisions that are in line with the planning scheme, and that you do not have the discretion to make a decision that does not align with the planning scheme. You may need to help the community understand that the planning scheme aligns with the council’s strategic plan, which was developed in consultation with the community, and that the appropriate time for community members to provide input is through the council’s strategic planning process.