Community petition fails to sway council
THE controversial plan to build a resort at Hanging Rock has gained a groundswell of opposition, with residents claiming Macedon Ranges Shire has abandoned all community consultation.
The shire has agreed to allow accommodation and a conference centre to be built at the Rock.
It says there was only one suitable option for the sustainable management of the Rock, so it did not seek community input, deeming it "a hollow process".
Megan and Luke Spielvogel, who live just 100 metres from the historical and religious site, have started a petition calling for a halt on development until due consultation has taken place.
The petition, which they plan to present to councillors in coming days, has attracted almost 5000 signatures and gained nation-wide attention.
But the shire remains steadfast in its decision.
Mayor Roger Jukes said it was still a very early stage in the process, and consultation would come "after council had done the groundwork".
"The feedback has been that we haven't followed the consultation matrix, but I don't think that's a fair statement," he said.
"At the moment, there is nothing to consult about until the in-depth work is done."
But Ms Spielvogel said that wasn't enough.
"They've actually bypassed their community consultation framework, and we need to be able to comment before the development goes ahead," she said.
"It's not necessarily about stopping the development - we just want to be consulted and have input before any decisions are made.
"I don't think they've explored enough options. And to me it's quite concerning they believe they can just go ahead with this."
Mayor Jukes said it remained unclear whether development would go ahead.
"We've been discussing this for three years, and we don't even know if there will be any takers to go ahead with development," he said.
He encouraged those with concerns to go to www.mrsc.vic.gov.au.