Back to Square One in Precinct 2 (April 2012)
There has been high drama in the saga of Precinct 2, Aireys Inlet. Council’s proposed Special Charge Scheme – to fund drainage, road and pathways works – has been rejected by a majority of affected property owners and the scheme will not now go ahead.
Precinct 2 is, loosely, bounded by Bambra Road, Philip Street, the Great Ocean Road, Aireys Street, Pearse Road and McConachy Road. Objections from 188 owners were received for the 311 properties in the scheme – a total of 60 per cent in opposition. Under Section 163B (6) and (7) of the Local Government Act, council cannot now declare the scheme in its current form due to a majority of property owners objecting to the scheme.
An extremely well-organised team of local owners coordinated most of the objections in the face of many difficulties, including privacy regulations resulting in their not having access to absentee property owners’ addresses.
The hearing of the submissions from objectors was conducted by council on 13 April 2012. A report will now be prepared for council summarising all the submissions made and recommending a decision on how the scheme might be revised in light of the submissions made. On 23 May 2012 council will then determine the future of the scheme.
AIDA made a strong submission to council regarding the inconsistency of the scope of the proposed scheme with earlier recommendations by council’s Precinct 2 citizens’ jury and also with the preservation of the informal coastal character of Aireys Inlet and District. Our submission read:
AIDA wishes to express its concerns to council in respect of:
- the failure of proper process in considering and acting on the recommendations of the Precinct 2 citizens’ jury in accordance with council’s terms of reference. We raised this matter previously
with the infrastructure department, in our letter of September 2010, but received no acknowledgement or reply; and
- our primary objective as an association, which is to conserve the environment and natural qualities of our district, and specifically protect and enhance the informal coastal character of our townships.
Ian Godfrey AIDA Newsletter April 2012
Aireys Inlet Precinct 2 Proposed Special Charge Scheme for Roads and Drainage Works – update May 2012
Due to a majority of property owners objecting to the proposed roads, drainage and pathways special charge scheme in Precinct 2, Aireys Inlet, council unanimously decided at its meeting on 23 May to:
- Not declare the Aireys Inlet Precinct 2 Special Charge Scheme in acknowledgement of the requirement stated at Section 163B sub-sections 6 and 7 of the Local Government Act 1989; and
- Advise all affected property owners of Council’s decision.’
This result was a great relief to most Precinct 2 residents, even though many felt that there were aspects of the scheme that were of value. Although the shire’s infrastructure department failed to report the number of objections it received, or the grounds the objections were based on, most opposition seems to have centred around unwanted footpaths and road sealing – together with their high cost. The overwhelming rejection of the scheme was conveyed by owners under the formal consultation process laid down in the Local Government Act – and Council was therefore obliged under the Act to withdraw the scheme.
This is an historic decision, as it is the first time that a special charge scheme has ever been rejected in the Surf Coast Shire, and it is already leading to major changes in council policy.
At its 28 March meeting, after the rejection was known, council unanimously resolved that it:
‘Endorse for all future infrastructure solutions in sensitive coastal areas a design approach in sympathy with the local neighbourhood character and request that engagement with impacted communities occurs prior to the commencement of design work to ensure communities contribute to proposed infrastructure solutions.’
AIDA sees this as a key decision, and hopes to be able to work with council to establish the framework for its implementation.
Ian Godfrey AIDA Newsletter July 2012