BASS Coast Shire Council is likely to face another fight with Sunset Strip residents after it voted to table another report into a special charge scheme for the area.
The issue of substandard roads and poor drainage systems in Sunset Strip has been on and off council’s agenda for years.
Cr Stephen Fullarton is leading the charge for the report and at a council meeting on Wednesday said he has little sympathy for holiday home owners who enjoy the difference in having a house on a dirt road, as opposed to sealed.
It follows years of discussions between previous councils and Sunset Strip residents over the dirt road and tens of thousands of dollars wasted on reports.
The previous council abandoned the scheme in June 2016, at a loss of more than $160,000.
But the reports and costings could be of use again now that council is pursuing the upgrade.
Cr Fullarton acknowledged there are a lot of issues, including the balance between the financial burden of the landowners and the “substantial” community gain.
“That community gain means that young families can actually comfortably live in those areas, their kids can ride bikes on the footpaths and elderly people or frail people can actually walk on footpaths, without having to walk on a dirt road and be constantly covered in a cloud of dust or mud, depending on the season,” Cr Fullarton said.
He was approached by a couple of ladies who live in Sunset Strip who said they have been told by their doctors to move out because their health is being seriously affected by the dust.
Cr Fullarton added he regularly receives complaints that residents’ houses are “shrouded” in dust.
“It’s always been a pet hate of mine that we haven’t pursued this more vigorously.”
Regarding objections, Cr Fullarton cited an example of Pine Avenue in Cowes, where people were up in arms about a special
charge scheme.
But following the upgrade, he claimed people came forward and said how wrong they were and apologised for being upset.
Cr Bruce Kent however isn’t keen for council to spend any more time on planning for a Sunset Strip upgrade, unless the majority of residents want it.
“We have a system where we look at our areas and we progress them up the list,” Cr Kent said.
“I’m dealing with residents in Shetland Heights Road and Potters Hill Road at the moment and they have abided by the system.”
The residents have presented a petition to council and if 70 per cent of residents want to go forward with a special charge scheme, council will back them, he said.
“I don’t know why, when Sunset Strip has had its day, that they shouldn’t now have to go out and get their 70 per cent, be treated like everybody else.
“They’ve had their day, they said no, whether it’s people from Melbourne or not, they said no.
“If we think we can get it up and going, go get the 70 per cent, but don’t jump the list, it’s as simple as that.”
It was a contentious issue as Cr Michael Whelan disputed Cr Kent’s statement and said residents “haven’t quite had their day” because the plan was ditched after strong opposition, and there simply wasn’t the will to carry on.
“This really takes it to a stage where that decision can be taken by the people who have an interest in that area, so I make that clarification that it really didn’t get to that stage, so they haven’t quite had their day.”
Cr Fullarton ended the discussion and said “it’s time we did it…bring it on”.
The motion for the report was carried.