By Eden Hynninen
Lancefield’s Robert Green is shocked after being banned from entering Macedon Ranges Shire Council offices following an ongoing development issue.
On June 12, Mr Green received a letter from Macedon Ranges Shire Council signed by chief executive Margot Stork stating that he interacted with council staff disrespectfully in the reception area.
“I know that I didn’t, but it’s their word against mine. I was born in Lancefield and my family have been here since mid-1840s – I’ve never had any priors to this. I could get a criminal record,” Mr Green said.
“I am very aware that my behaviour has been watched for a long time, I would be foolish at any stage to act inappropriately.
“I believe they may have done this because I stood up for my community against this Development Planning Overlay and 173 agreements.”
In May, council approved Planning Scheme Amendment C117 to control and develop about 60 hectares of Lancefield land.
Council believed these sites that have multiple ownership are at “risk of ad-hoc development that does not respect the town’s characteristics”.
Mr Green said there has been no formal application for subdivision from property owners.
As reported previously in The Free Press, the approval could result in about 30 residents losing their third party rights, face property devaluation and extensive shared unknown and unchallengable infrastructure costs – including Mr Green’s property.
“All of the information regarding this decision have gone to the planning minister to be signed, but the information regarding the 173 agreement we have not seen or been given despite asking,” Mr Green said.
“If the minister signs this the consequences are that we may lose our existing rights and that we – or other people in the town – can’t reject or appeal anything that goes on in the development areas.
“It’ll be left to developers and council to decide what to do on the land and will also decide to portion out the costs to land owners. If they decide to do roadworks tomorrow we may have to cover that cost.”
Mr Green said he has no argument with the future or betterment of Lancefield but rather the lack of transparency from council.
“There’s nothing set in concrete. In March the councillor briefing notes said that their clear objective was to remove our third party rights so residents don’t go to VCAT,” he said.
“Even if I don’t agree to the agreement, when my property is handed on or I decide to sell, the property costs are then passed to my son or the next owner – they might have to walk away in debt.”
Mr Green said there were people living in Lancefield with numerous overlays on their property.
“There’s people living here that have seven overlays on their property, they might as well walk off their land,” he said.
Mr Green spoke about the pressures involved including family relationships, community commitments and work, but said he had a lot of support from friends in the community.
He said he had written to council and asked them to provide evidence of his alleged behaviour – he’s been advised that he will get a response in 10 working days.
In response to Mr Green’s ban from council, Ms Stork said it would be inappropriate for council to comment on individuals’ circumstances for privacy reasons.
She said options are always available for people to contact council directly and express any concerns regarding operational matters.