IF THE Distinctive Areas and Landscapes (DAL) overlay introduced by the State Government in October this year wasn’t enough to kill off the $380 million Mahers Landing residential project, proposed by the Mering Corporation, it must certainly be dead in the water now.
Or at least until there’s clear air ahead.
The 1113 residential-lot and a 200-boat marina proposal on a 253ha site on Anderson Inlet, well outside the urban boundary of Inverloch, has become embroiled in the investigation being conducted by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) looking into alleged wrongdoing at the City of Casey.
It now seems certain that inquiry will extend to the City of Cardinia and possibly to the Bass Coast Shire following the association of developer and planner, John Woodman, with the Mahers Landing project and others.
There is no suggestion the officials of the Mering Corporation have been at fault, however Mr Woodman’s firm Watsons Pty Ltd, have previously been listed as the “lead consultants” for the project looking after “scoping of EES requirements, preparing referral, liaising with Minister’s appointed Technical Reference Group, briefing and coordinating all sub-consultants, liaising with Federal, State and Local government agencies, reviewing and settling all draft reports and preparing documentation for various approvals and consents.”
Mr Woodman’s firm, Watsons, were also responsible for town planning, survey and civil engineering aspects of the project according to a report they produced in October 2018 for the Mering Corporation and the Bass Coast Shire Council.
The local council has already received inquiry from the media, including Age reporters Royce Millar and Ben Schneiders, and council CEO Ali Wastie has responded as follows:
“The Mering Corporation and Mr Jason Yeap briefed Bass Coast Shire Councillors in October 2018 and July 2019 in relation to a proposed development at Mahers Landing, near Inverloch.
“I can confirm that Mr John Woodman was in attendance at the July Councillor briefing.
“The Mering Corporation ran their own community engagement session on the project at RACV Resort Inverloch in May 2018. Council was not involved in delivering the engagement; however, I can confirm that Cr Les Larke did attend that community session.
“To date, Council has not received a planning scheme amendment application for this proposal at Mahers Landing.”
The Mering Corporation also ran an information session at the RACV on August 31, 2017.
The Council has confirmed that Cr Les Larke was at both public events. He may also have attended a dinner with members of the development group, but he has denied any direct involvement.
Speaking to the Sentinel-Times last week, Cr Larke said he only attended the public sessions at the RACV as an interested observer and councillor for the Bunurong Ward, which includes Inverloch.
“I don’t know Mr Woodman and to my knowledge, I’ve never met him,” Cr Larke said.
The Mering Corporation has been contacted for a response and an update on their project but have so far declined.