AN application to amend a permit for a 140-site camping/tourist park in Boneo has been approved, despite concerns from a neighbouring organic farmer and community fears the park could be used as “defacto” permanent accommodation.
The owner of the land at 161 and 189 Old Cape Schanck Road, Richard Merigan – who was fined $9000 in 2018 for the illegal removal of 46 trees and vegetation at the site – wants to reconfigure the park layout over the 10-acre and five-aces sites, enlarging some pitch sites and removing existing buildings and additional trees.
At last Tuesday’s Planning Services Committee (12 September) several objectors questioned the suitability of the rural location of the tourist park.
Boneo resident Jane Barfoot urged council to consider implementing a section 173 agreement to place restrictions on the land’s use “to deal with land owners who take matters into their own hands” and to stop the site becoming permanently occupied.
Barfoot accused the land owner of not complying with an earlier Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal order to plant one thousand native trees to compensate for the 2018 vegetation removal.
Only “about 200” trees had been planted, she said.
Organic farm owner Andrew Bryant, whose property abuts the site of the proposed tourist park, told the meeting he feared the development would impact the surrounding rural land and his farm.
He said he was “very concerned” about the future of the farm’s organic certification, and felt that the farm’s existence was “threatened”.
Resident Jean Sheridan urged the council to protect the area.
“We’re losing it on the peninsula and we all know it, we’ve got to do more,” she said.
However, Merigan said contamination risk and amenity loss had been “mitigated”, and that the peninsula now had the opportunity to have a “first tier” tourist site that would contribute around $10 million to the region’s economy.
Responding to concerns the park could end up housing permanent residents, which would be in breach of the land’s zoning, he conceded that a Supreme Court ruling meant tenants could not be evicted if they chose to stay for long periods.
“You can’t just piff them out, whether you want to or not,” he said.
Merigan said there was no doubt a caravan park was going to be built, as a permit had already been approved by VCAT.
The permit amendment application was carried with several conditions, including that additional tree planting take place throughout the site, and that only mechanical means or eco-friendly chemicals or pesticides are used in property maintenance.