LINES are being drawn in the sand, grassy areas, footpaths and even a memorial honouring fallen war dead, over changes to the foreshore at Sorrento.
Mornington Peninsula Shire began a “stakeholder consultation” for a foreshore plan in December 2016 and added the final version of the plan to its website in May 2021.
But all that could change this week when councillors decide whether to back changes proposed by Cr Susan Bissinger, who calls the council master plans “generic, even a little tacky”.
She says Sorrento’s “beauty is classic simplicity and 100-year-old charm”.
Water and coast team leader Laura Crilly, in a report to council’s Monday night (31 October) meeting said adopting Bissinger’s proposals would lead to delays and could add $100,000 to the $170,000 already spent on developing Sorrento’s foreshore plans.
The cost estimates do not include council officers’ times or that of involved government agencies.
The amendment proposed by Bissinger would see works needed to achieve the adopted master plan “broken into smaller parcels [allowing] more community involvement with the council”.
Bissinger, before she was a councillor, sent a submission about the foreshore to council when it first called for comments.
At that time, she says, “there were over 70 items identified for change, which just confused the issue, none of which influenced the final draft”.
Now a councillor, Bissinger has sought public backing of her proposed changes by inviting signatures to an online petition.
However, the Nepean Conservation Group says Bissinger’s amendment “appears to be thwarting the original consultative process”.
The NCG says it is investigating if Bissinger’s actions are contrary to the Local Government Act and says her petitions “all contain misinformation”.
“It is entirely not surprising and even expected that the NCG will be investigating any possible wrongdoing on my part. I have had legal advice and will be following that,” Bissinger said.
“It is my job as a councillor to make sure my community is heard, and that is exactly what I will do.
“This whole process could be the best thing for Sorrento or the worst depending on how it goes.”
NCG president Dr Ursula de Jong said the group “largely supports” plans proposed by the shire which were “developed in response to community feedback”.
“The NCG understands that council has received community support and endorsement already, and that due process of community consultation has been followed,” de Jong said.
“The NCG considers it critical that a proper process be followed so that all can participate.”
De Jong said the shire wrote to stakeholders on 21 May 2021, “having considered all community feedback and included items or adjusted designs where practicable”.
“The plan draws on the vision, objectives and actions of the Sorrento Coastal and Marine Management Plan, committed to by the community and stakeholders and endorsed by council in December 2018.”
Bissinger, in her online petition, says Sorrento “needs a refresh and long overdue maintenance, not an ugly facelift that looks cheap and generic”.