Below is the submission by a friend of mind whose home is being acquired under the Land acquisition Act for grassland. I have omitted some contact details for privacy reasons. Now If I had spent many years building what I would have thought was a safe and secure home for my kids I too would be very upset if this happens to me and I would fight the authorities on taking it from me. She is not the only one that is affected by the acquisition by many others as well along that proposed reserve. Planning must have been going on for years but owners were given less than a month to make a submission from what I had read on Melbourne@5Million.
In one swift blow they have turned the world around to active community members and a dedicated parent and music teacher. If they can do this to her family they can do it to you at any time. Please join the fight by spreading the word of the poor and shameful manner in which this was handled and give back the land to the people. Help us save the homes of the people that live at Mount Cotterell. Please read on. Thank you.
13 July 2009
Growth Areas Authority
PO Box 1166
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Submission of Mr and Mrs Frank and Michelle Spiteri
Mount Cotterell 3024
RE: Proposed Grassland Reserves in Mount Cotterell, revision of the UGB, the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road and the designation of land use for development and native grassland reserve.
This submission STRONGLY opposes the establishment of grassland reserve at Mt. Cotterell and specifically the land at the above mentioned site.
This submission supports the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road path in its current route.
Our names are Frank and Michelle Spiteri. We wish to submit to you our strong objections regarding the proposal to place our family home and 27 acre property in the grasslands reserve at Mount Cotterell. Our property address is 716 Troups Road South. Please see the attached map for exact location. We wish to argue that this proposal is not warranted and that our land has no ecological significance and has no place in a grassland reserve.
We have owned the property since 1992 and have lived here since 1994, firstly in the existing weather board dwelling that was on the property and then in our new home which was completed in 2001. In the past 17 years, we have made many capital improvements to our property by way of
- a machinery shed built in 1999
- a new 40 square home completed in 2002
- significant tree planting on property boundary
- removal of old existing dwelling in 2003
- new fencing around property boundary
- spraying, cultivating, removing rock to stop the spread of tussock
- in drought free times we have had excellent barley and wheat crops.
- veranda and outdoor living area.
As is obvious, our property is far removed from a vacant and unused block of land. It has been our home and we have taken great pride in maintaining it and improving the value of it. Please see attached photographs which show the amount of capital improvements mentioned above. To have this taken away from us for the purpose of a proposed grassland reserve is a gross injustice and warrants high legal contention by us and by land and home owners in a similar situation.
In the 17 years we have owned the property have we have never had ANY communication, either written or verbal, from a Shire Of Melton, DSE or DPI officer that acknowledges the existence of any significant vegetation on our property. The Biodiversity Impact Assessment Report names our property as having very low value vegetation. Both DSE officers that we spoke with at the Melton and Wyndham information sessions also supported the fact that we have no significant vegetation on our properties. Yet, we are being subject to this unfair and unjust acquisition of our home. It is interesting to note the 48 hectare Mount Cotterell volcanic cone purchased by the Shire of Melton, ( by its own admittance on the council’s website under sustainability) to protect state and nationally significant grasses is not included in the proposed grasslands reserve and yet ecologically poor land such as our developed property is.
It is our understanding these grasslands are at act as an offset to the damage caused to the significant native vegetation caused by the development of land within the new Urban Growth Boundary. The area designated for the Mount Cotterell grasslands has even less of an environmental value to land included within the UGB. We argue that our property is an extremely accessible area and sits on the current Urban Growth Boundary. This provides for land that is extremely suitable for urbanisation given its proximity to major infrastructure such as the proposed Outer Metropolitan Ring Road and the Regional Rail Link. There are many houses built and currently being built on the west side of Troups Road South. It makes little sense to include these developed properties in a grassland reserve when there is development only a stone’s throw away.
If the need to acquire this parcel of land for proposed grassland is so great, we suggest allowing existing home owners such as our selves to have their homes excised from the reserve so that at the very least, we can remain living our own homes.
Furthermore, we are very concerned about the process that government will be undertaking to acquire the land for the grassland reserve. It is our understanding from the letter sent on June 18 out by Peter Harris, Secretary of the DSE, that land falling within the proposed grasslands reserves, will be subject to the introduction of a Public Acquisition Overlay by the State Government. We further understand that this will be done without invoking the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act until such time that the government is truly ready to acquire the land. This will “lock-up” and devalue our land and home for potentially many years. This is unacceptable and if the State Government wants to acquire the land then they must invoke the act immediately. It is unfair for the government to expect that home owners are to wait in “limbo” until they are ready to act. Not only do we lose our homes and land but will also be bound by a Public Land Acquisition Overlay that limits us considerably. As landowners we strongly object to any of this happening.
In relation to the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road, we have no concerns with its current path even given that a small portion of the south east corner of our property will be affected. We hope to be able to keep our home and this will mean that we will have excellent access to the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road by way of the on ramp at Riding Boundary Road and at Boundary Road.
We trust that you will take our concerns regarding the issues raised seriously and respect the right that we have to protect our home and investment.
Frank and Michelle Spiteri