Road making plan seals outrage

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Resident approval: In summer it’s dusty and in winter heavy rains can run downhill like a river, but that’s the way most property owners and residents of Augusta St, Mt Martha like it … and want it to stay.

A CAMPAIGN is underway to short circuit a $3 million road making scheme in Mt Martha.

Signatures are being collected on a petition opposing the proposal and councillors are being lobbied in a bid to stop it before it appears on a council agenda for approval.

The scheme to seal Augusta St and the adjacent Mark, Mathew and Gregory streets may be placed on hold pending release of a review of the shire’s policy of requiring property owners to pay part of road and footpath construction costs.

Under the present policy the shire can proceed in the face of resident opposition if the shire’s participation is more than one third of the total cost. Shire officers are recommending the shire pay 35 per cent of the scheme’s cost.

The plan being opposed by the property owners also includes a footpath in Augusta St.

The average cost to the 72 affected properties is $26,000, with council officers proposing that the shire pay more than $1 million on the project.

Council officers outlined the plan in August and residents and property owners are now trying to organise a meeting with ward councillors, including the mayor Cr Bev Colomb, to let them know most of them are against the plan.

As well as a petition, the property owners are quoting real estate agent Sam Dankert as saying sealing the unmade streets “will have a detrimental impact from a market value perspective through the loss of amenity”.

He says sealing nearby Shanns Av led to “suburbanising” and can be seen as a “strong case to avoid the same scenario for this much-cherished part of Mt Martha”.

The councillors will also be given copies of an article published in a real estate magazine which describes Mt Martha as “Melbourne’s answer to Byron Bay”, including how its dirt roads were part of the attraction for an author and her photographer husband to move there from suburban Gardenvale.

Augusta St resident James Syme says more than 70 per cent of affected property owners oppose the Augusta St scheme.

He said the shire’s 2006 strategy of sealing roads is outdated.

“Council policy seems to be to ultimately seal all dirt roads on the Mornington Peninsula,” Mr Syme said.

“Many of the criteria on which the policy relies have changed over the past 10 years. In particular, I think there is now considerably more recognition in the community of the charm of the unmade road environment.”

Mr Syme said residents living outside of the Augusta St scheme also wanted to sign the petition because “they value the ambience of the dirt road environment and want it retained. They do not want the suburban look and feel of so many of the Mt Martha streets”.

“In the interests of not only the residents in the affected streets but all residents in Mt Martha and, indeed the whole shire, I believe the shire policy should be rethought before further destruction of dirt roads occurs, particularly where the residents have loudly and clearly said they don’t want it.”

First published in the Mornington News – 24 October 2017

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