Green wedge politics

Cr Matt Kirwan with secretary of the residents' committee member Carmel Perkins and presdient David Duckworth.

By CAM LUCADOU-WELLS

RETIREES are set to fight against Greater Dandenong Council’s proposal to rezone their green-wedge retirement village in Bangholme for industrial use.
A quarter of Willow Lodge’s 600 residents, mainly pensioners, met on 3 December out of concern for their future under the proposal.
The leafy retirement village is within a 337-hectare land parcel bordered by Harwood and Frankston-Dandenong roads, EastLink and flood-prone Eumemmering Creek, which the council will submit to state government for rezoning.
Willow Lodge Residents Association president David Duckworth said residents just wanted a quiet life and were daunted by the prospect of moving out.
“One of my concerns was to stop people from panicking. A lot of elderly people here they don’t have much other than the homes they’re living in.
“And the prospect of their home being sold under them is a real concern for them.”
During the meeting, residents cheered “with gusto” when told by the village’s management that their homes would be safe.
But Mr Duckworth said residents faced higher site fees to reflect higher industrial-zone rates.
“Most of us are pensioners, already paying a large slice of their income to stay here.”
Matthew Kirwan, the only dissenting Greater Dandenong councillor, said there was a possibility that the village would be sold off or bordered by industrial development if the rezoning went ahead.
He has submitted a rescission motion against the plan for the council’s meeting on 14 December.
In his motion, he stated that the council’s move was done without community consultation and was “arguably futile” given both major political parties supported a fixed green-wedge boundary.
He noted the council’s previous failed attempt had been opposed by Frankston council, Melbourne Water and Willow Lodge residents.
“We shouldn’t be requesting changes to the urban growth boundary without consulting with the community.”
Cr Jim Memeti, who moved the proposal, said the proposal had been the council’s position since 2003.
He said the residents’ amenity would be protected if a buffer zone from nearby factories and warehouses was retained.
“At the moment, they’ve got a buffer zone from the egg farm on one side, an industrial zone across the road and industrial at the back.
“They’ve always known it’s an industrial zone.”

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