SUPPORTERS of a proposed new soccer reserve in Monbulk erupted in cheers at last week's Yarra Ranges Council meeting when the project was finally approved.
The council's public gallery was packed with club members keen to hear the councillors' decision. All the councillors, except Cr Fiona McAllister, voted in favour of the development, which would include five soccer pitches, amenities and car parking.
Monbulk Rangers Soccer Club now has one more hurdle to jump in what has been a five-year bid for a new ground. The council's decision will now go to Planning Minister Matthew Guy for approval to have the site at Old Emerald Road rezoned from green wedge to a public park and recreation zone.
Earlier this year, the previous council committed $720,000 to the project, though it was still awaiting results from an independent planning panel. Councillors had asked the panel to investigate submissions for and against the development owing to the number of objections relating to noise, light, traffic, infrastructure, zoning and size.
Last week, club chairwoman Lisa Doolan told councillors that the club was "at breaking point" with the huge distances the teams had to travel to compete and the deluge of people wanting to join the club. "It's a logistical nightmare for parents," she said.
One Yarra Ranges resident, Jim Pippey, made a submission urging the council not to approve the rezoning because the independent panel had not given proper weight to the loss of agricultural land against the benefits of the reserve.