THERE is no easy solution for Grantville’s growing erosion crisis, but that doesn’t mean the community won’t fight tooth and nail for a remedy.
That was the crystal clear message coming out of a meeting between government representatives and concerned residents last Friday night.
Organised by Bass MP Brian Paynter, the informal meeting allowed locals to speak to Department of Environment, Land, Water and planning (DELWP) representative Michael Dortmans – an identity who is very familiar with erosion issues throughout Bass Coast.
Mr Dortmans said the biggest problem, in regards to Grantville and the massive stretch of eroding shorelines, isn’t just the fact that erosion is a natural process affecting most coastlines in the country, it’s a lack of funding to do anything about it.
“We have a fund to carry out erosion control but it is ever-reducing,” he said.
“It used to be several million dollars per year but that has now dropped to below $1m for the entire state.”
To put that in perspective, Mr Paynter said the three timber groynes installed at Cowes East last year cost around $150,000 – roughly 15 per cent of the annual erosion control budget for Victoria.
Other remedies throughout Bass Coast in the past decade have been even more expensive.
The rock wall at Jam Jerrup cost $3000 per metre of beach being protected, while the landslip problem in San Remo cost millions to rectify with funding assistance from VicRoads.
The other issue, Mr Dortmans explained, was that the State Government makes protecting public assets (roads, powerlines etc) a priority over private land when it comes to erosion control.
In other words, if a Grantville resident is worried their house might be washed away in a decade or two, there’s not a lot can be done unless a nearby public asset is at risk.
Which brought to light the question of what is and isn’t crown foreshore land in Grantville, especially between Queensferry and Deep Creek Street.
“We all live here and no one knows what’s what,” one resident said from the floor.
“We need mapping to tell us what is managed by council, the crown and the foreshore committee.”
Grantville resident Kat Cox – a community members who has been at the forefront of the push for erosion solutions – said a follow-up meeting has already been scheduled for this Saturday, September 25 at the Grantville Transaction Centre at 12pm.
“It is open to everyone and Brian Paynter will be there to help us draft a proposal to DELWP,” Ms Cox said.
“We need representatives from Corinella, Coronet Bay, Jam Jerrup, Cowes, Rhyll San Remo and Lang Lang.
“We want to work as a collective group with the understanding that each area requires a different solution.”
For more information, join the Bass Coast Coastline Erosion Group on Facebook.
Grantville residents demand rates reduction
BASS Coast ratepayers Helen Zervopoulos and Christopher Nagle, who own and operate the foreshore caravan park in Grantville, believe they should be entitled to a rate reduction.
All properties fronting directly onto the coast have had an ‘Inundation Overlay,’ imposed on them by Bass Coast Shire which, according to Helen and Christopher, immediately reduces the market value of their property.
Mr Nagle believes that the devaluation resulting from the new overly needs to be taken into account by the shire when re assessing council rates.
Concern about the ‘Inundation Overly’ was raised at the Grantville and District Ratepayers and Residents Association last week by another Grantville ratepayer Chris Cox, who is also concerned about the devaluation of his property.
“My property has decreased in value since the overlay,” Chris objected “so how come my rates have gone up? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Ms Zervopoulos believes that all coastal residents in the shire should put pressure on council to change its policy on how they review rates for all properties affected by the recent overlay.
“It’s all very well for council to want to protect itself against any future litigation by coastal residents who may find that their land is at risk by rising sea levels and coastal erosion but by the same token ratepayers affected by the ‘Inundation Overlay’ should get a rate reduction,” Helen said.
She also believes that there would be a good case for a class action against council regarding this matter, she said if it could be demonstrated that the ‘Inundation Overlay’ was a contributing factor in decreasing the market value of foreshore property then it could be effectively argued that council could not justifiably apply a rate increase.
Further, foreshore caravan parks have recently received the Bass Coast Shire ‘Council General Valuation 2016 Rental Questionnaire’ which is used to calculate future rate rises.
Caravan parks fall under ‘Specialist Properties’ and the annual gross takings are taken into account when setting future rate rises.
“I don’t see what our gross turnover has to do with the land value,” Helen said.
“As far as I understand rates are calculated on the value of the land. Taking the total earnings of the business into account only serves as a justification for council to revenue raise at the expense of the business operator which, it could be argued, is discriminatory.”
Helen and Christopher urge all foreshore residents to take up the matter of unfair rate rises with their local councillor to affect a change of policy regarding future rate assessments on properties subject to an ‘Inundation Overlay.’