ARGUMENTS for and against the rezoning of South East Water’s decommissioned reservoir land in Mt Eliza for housing were put to a state government planning panel meeting in Rosebud last week.
The panel has 30 business days to prepare its report and the planning authority will have a maximum of 28 days to release the report to the public, says Mornington MP David Morris who has taken a keen interest in the matter.
Late last year he asked Mornington Peninsula Shire to extend its public consultation period. The shire refused.
In early 2014 the government water authority asked the shire to rezone its old reservoir land of 2.8 hectares on the corner of Barmah and Kanya roads, east of Kunyung Rd, for 24 blocks of about 1000 square metres each, worth about $450,000 a block or $10.8 million in total.
The dam was decommissioned in 1999 and has become a haven for wildlife.
Residents, environmentalist and others want the land to be a nature reserve as this part of Mt Eliza has just two inland reserves – Bruce Cameron Reserve (site of Kunyung Preschool) and an uninviting, flood-prone area next to Gunyong Creek.
Reservoir neighbours formed a lobby group, Kunyung Residents Group, in late November to push for a reserve and sought expert guidance and assistance from individual wildlife experts and groups.
Mr Morris said the panel had heard presentations from the “shire council, South East Water, Mornington Peninsula Human Rights Group, Mornington Peninsula Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, Women’s Property Initiative and Kunyung Residents Group”. Individuals addressing the panel included former Mt Eliza Ward councillor Leigh Eustace, who has been pushing for more open space for many years.
The shire requested South East Water set aside a substantially larger parcel of land for parkland than was originally allocated, Mr Morris said.
The shire asked for one hectare of open space, more than a third of the SEW land. The panel was asked to recommend that two blocks be allocated for public housing.
Rebecca Taylor of Kunyung Residents Group told the panel SEW had the opportunity to put forward a positive image to the region as it comes closer to moving its headquarters to Frankston from the City of Kingston. SEW is building an eight-storey tower next to Kananook Creek, which will house about 600 employees.
“We ask that you [panel members] please recommend to council that they not be hasty in their rezoning of this property, and that the land be further assessed in regards to the environmental impact on the local flora and fauna and the significance on the surrounding natural corridors,” Ms Taylor said.
In March, South East Water stated that it had a responsibility as an essential service provider to ensure “efficient operation of infrastructure and use of land owned by the corporation”.