MELBOURNE Water has confirmed it made several unsuccessful attempts to sell a 5.6 hectare piece of prime Rosebud land to the Mornington Peninsula Shire for community use, before applying to have the land rezoned for development.
Melbourne Water has declared the three lots of land in and around Jetty Rd as surplus to its needs and wants to rezone it under the controversial Fast Track Amendment scheme from public use zone 1 to general residential zone 1, potentially pocketing tens of millions of dollars from developers.
Under the Fast Track process, agencies that want to sell public land must offer it to other government authorities, such as councils, before putting it on the open market.
At the 30 January council meeting, Rosebud resident Doris Campbell asked if the council and councillors were aware that the shire could have purchased the land under the “first right of refusal” offer by Melbourne Water at a discounted rate of 30 per cent.
Planning services manager David Bergin said it was his “understanding” that the land was only offered to the shire at the full market price. He said the modus operandi of the current state government was to sell off state-owned land in order to recoup as much money as possible.
But that comment contradicts The News’ understanding that when councils buy state-owned land for community use, a hefty discount applies.
Ms Campbell, who is spearheading a campaign to stop the rezoning and retain some of the land as open space, said it was disappointing if the council had missed out on the opportunity to buy the land and keep it as open space for the community.
Ms Campbell said that the convener of a Melbourne Water public information session held late last year in Dromana told residents that if the shire purchased part of, or all of the land for community use, Melbourne Water would sell it at the discounted rate.
At the meeting, the council resolved that it would be seeking an assurance from Melbourne Water that open space elements along the creek and the important vegetation were retained and gifted back to council.
Ms Campbell said residents were furious with the rezoning plans, and had started a petition to stop the land from being lost to the community.