AN UNPRECEDENTED 27 objections to a Rupanyup National Broadband Network communications tower site convinced Yarriambiack Shire councillors to reject the NBN's planning permit on Wednesday.
Communications company Ericsson applied to use and develop 4 Dyer Street, Rupanyup, for the telecommunications tower on behalf of NBN Co.
Ericsson described the site as a prime candidate with good coverage to most houses that was considered to create minimal community opposition.
Council's planning officer David Young said the site, adjacent to Connolly Parade, was within 300 metres of a school, within 60 metres of a dwelling and within 300 metres of the middle of town.
He said many residents were concerned about perceived health effects from the proposed tower.
Mayor Kylie Zanker said one of the community's major concerns was the proximity to the school.
She said another was the land's potential to be used as a residential area.
Cr Zanker said there were several other potential tower sites and that council refused the permit in the hope Ericsson could find a more suitable location.
"We don't want it to look like Rupanyup's a community that doesn't want this technology, because we do,'' she said.
"As a community there was a worry that if we objected to this we'd miss out in the future. It's just the site people have a problem with.''
Cr Zanker said council had received limited information about the tower in the six months since the process began.
She said once Ericsson submitted the planning permit, people could put forward objections.
Cr Zanker said she was stunned when council received 27 objections.
"Sometimes we get one or two objections to a planning permit,'' she said. "It's the most objections I've ever seen in all my time on council.''
Cr Zanker said she was unsure what would happen now but revealed that Ericsson could take council to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to challenge the permit rejection.
"I'd like to hope it wouldn't go to the tribunal we'd like to see a win-win situation,'' she said.
"The next step is we wait and see and hope the telecommunications company comes back with another site.''
Ericsson sub-contractor Visionstream's Greg Aitkins attended Wednesday's council meeting.
He told council the objections would not stand up at the tribunal.
NBN supporter Cr Ray Kingston rejected the permit but said he was in two minds. He had several issues with the site selected.
"They have described this as vacant farmland there's nothing 'vacant farmland' about it,'' he said.
"You could describe it as one of the most desirable blocks in town.''
Cr Kingston said Ericsson referred to a railway line in its submission.
"They had a lot in their letter about the railway line they must have done the survey in the 1970s when we last used the railway line,'' he said.
Cr Kingston said no-one in Rupanyup wanted the NBN more than he did. He said he was not concerned about health concerns .
"I'm concerned about having a proper go at picking a spot that has the least impact on the town in a proper way,'' he said.
"We need this but that doesn't mean we're just going to say yes to the first thing that comes along.
"There's going to be no shortage of options it's not like we're on a two-acre block.''
Cr Kingston said despite the hold-up he hoped to see a positive result for the town.
"We have a pragmatic community and our pragmatic community can see the value of this."