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Path survives quash bid

CR Meg Edwards made an emotional plea for councillors to respect the rights of farmers when South Gippsland Shire Council debated a shared path proposed to link Sandy Point with Waratah Bay last Wednesday.
Cr Edwards, often teary, said council had poorly treated landowners whose farms would be affected by the trail, with no consideration given to the impacts on their livelihoods.
The path proposal by the Sandy Point Community Group considered acquiring farmland there, but one of the landowners, Linda Heywood, told council last Wednesday her family’s land was not for sale. Cr Edwards’ family’s property at Fish Creek sits either side of Fish Creek Quarry Road, which council recently voted to open to the public as part of the Hoddle Mountain Trail. She said, “How dare we put people through this.”
She queried why council was putting resources towards the walk when the beach was on the other side of the dunes and provided an ample pathway.
“The landowners work hard to pay their rates and we are going to waste it,” Cr Edwards said.
She said the proponents had been disrespectful by not consulting the landowners. Cr Edwards rushed to move the motion before council at last Wednesday’s meeting that would have seen Waratah Way not included on council’s project list, but still included in its 2018 Paths and Trails Strategy, due to issues with land impacts. Option one for the trail included private land. Option two would include Crown land only and see the path extend into the dunes and vegetation removed.
But at the same time as Cr Edwards, Cr Alyson Skinner sought to move an alternative motion to include Waratah Way in the strategy project list to allow the community to further investigate, and stated no farmland would be compulsorily acquired. A ballot was held to determine which motion council would debate. Cr Skinner won.
Cr Aaron Brown rejected the idea, saying a report said the trail could not go through the dunes due to environmental issues and could only go through farmland. He said the path was not an essential service and the beach was adequate for walking.
“People have the right to be free of the stress of potential acquisition,” he said.
Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt said $20,000 had been spent on a consultant’s report that found going through the dunes was not achievable. She said asking the community to investigate further was wrong.
“The property owners do not want to be harassed until they are grey,” she said.
Cr Don Hill said the path could go along the beach. Cr Andrew McEwen said the beach was not always suitable for walking. Cr Jeremy Rich said the path would be a tourist attraction. Cr Skinner’s motion to was carried, five votes to four.

Spruiking their case: from left, South Gippsland Shire Councillor Maxine Kiel, Waratah Way project officer Cath Giles, Sandy Point’s Mike O’Mara, Cr Jeremy Rich, Peter Gould of Waratah Beach Camp and Sandy Point Community Group’s Philip Cornwell discuss the proposed Waratah Bay.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=25057

Posted by on Jun 5 2018. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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