Tears for Foster North tourism plan

NOT HAPPY: Objectors Di Scott (facing) and Linda Giddy exchanged a hug after South Gippsland Shire Council’s decision to approve a 36-person tourist accommodation business on a neighbouring property.

Matt Dunn


APPROVAL for a 36-person tourist accommodation business at Foster North has brought opponents to tears.

Residents near 250 O’Gradys Ridge Road were at South Gippsland Shire Council’s general meeting last week, waiting anxiously to see whether their pleas to stop the development going ahead would be heard.

Chair Julie Eisenbise told the gallery that she and her fellow administrators, Christian Zahra and Rick Brown had “laboured over this decision”.

She said two administrators had been to the site and the trio had considered all objections to the proposal.

Administrator Zahra said while council would support the plan, it came with eight pages of conditions, including strict rules pertaining to bushfire safety.

He rejected the idea the development would not sit well in a farming zone. He also dismissed objections that the development would lead to trespass on neighbouring properties.

“The planning system can’t control any illegal or improper actions of patrons at any location. This would be a matter for police under common law,” he said.

“There was also a conflating of issues, with the project being described as a function centre. The use of a function centre does not form part of the application and it would require further planning approval.”

Administrator Brown said he did not find the objections “compelling”.

“The suggestion is that the development could somehow pose a threat to farming in the area. The brutal reality is threats to farming in this area occurred a long time ago,” he said.

“It occurred with the subdividing of land and indeed if one looks at the landholdings of objectors it tells a story.

“Twelve objectors have holdings under two hectares, three under 20 and three over 40. Of those objectors, realistically, there are only three properties that could be used and are used for either farming or agroforestry.”

But objectors who spoke after the meeting admitted to feeling cheated by the decision. Cuddles and commiserations were exchanged, with two objectors openly weeping.

Spokesman Desmond Lane said he was affronted by any insinuation that the objectors did not represent the farming or agribusiness community.

“This is a high density development concentrated in part of a small acreage. It is out of keeping with the rural character of the area,” Mr Lane said.

“This is not a question of converting the existing buildings sympathetically with the environment.”

He said the development also infringed the usual 100 metre buffer zone between buildings and a nearby forestry plantation.

“This decision will open the flood gates to other potential developments of a similar ilk with the farming zones of South Gippsland and beyond, and makes a mockery of the zoning,” Mr Lane said.



Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=29927

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