THE SECTION 173 agreement on the Drouin Golf Club’s land was officially removed by councillors on Wednesday.
First published in the 29 May 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Get your copy for free from retailers across Baw Baw.
The agreement was applied to the land in 1989 by the Shire of Buln Buln, which was amalgamated into the Baw Baw Shire Council in the 1990s. It allowed for rural residential housing to be developed on a section of the golf club’s property as part of a larger country club development.
The full plan was to create a 36 hole course, but only 27 holes were completed before the Drouin Golf and Country Club placed itself under voluntary administration in August of last year. The club now has no intention of ever finishing the project outlined by the Section 173.
There has been some conjecture as to whether the agreement was ever legally implemented in the first place. Neither Buln Buln or Baw Baw councils ever registered the agreement with the state government and as such it is not recorded on land titles.
Residents of Fairway Drive, the housing development allowed by the Section 173 agreement, have objected to the agreement’s removal. In a number of submissions to the Baw Baw Shire they have expressed concerns about the area no longer having the country club lifestyle promised to them when they bought their land.
Residents maintain the Section 173 should remain in place.
But Mount Worth ward councillor Peter Kostos said the removal of the agreement would not open the flood gates to further development in the area as the land would remain in the farming zone.
“It is very very very important to note here that by the removal of the 173 will not change the situation for the people concerned about the green pasture at the back of their house,” he said at Wednesday’s meeting.
“If, down the track, this land goes for subdivision, there is a process to go though. The people who have been concerned about their loss of their backyard amenity will have plenty of chance to have their say.
“This is simply to take the Section 173 off.”
Drouin ward councillor Tricia Jones noted the removal of the Section 173 had provoked a strong and emotional response from the residents of Fairway Drive, but said she in favour of the motion.
Seven of nine councillors voted to approve the agreement’s removal, while councillors Debbie Brown and Murray Cook were unable to vote due to conflicts of interest.
Warragul ward councillor Mikaela Power said while the resolution was not ideal, it did provide clarity.
“I found this incredibly confusing and difficult to understand because there are lots of different sides of the story,” Cr Power said.
“This one wasn’t fully entered onto title, and this portion of land on which the agreement was in theory in place is farming zone so there are some potential measures residents can go through in case of [development].”
“It’s not an ideal situation really, but what it does do is remove a level of confusion.”
Despite previous strong showings at council meetings addressing the matter, no Fairway Drive residents made submissions at Wednesday’s meeting or were present for the vote. Council documents show they were notified of the meeting.
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