City of Greater Bendigo councillors will next week vote on whether to progress the forced sale of a parcel of land they wish to turn into a business park west of the city.
A ten-year impasse between the landowner – the Carter family – and Bendigo council on the proposed Marong Business Park, has, according to the council, resulted into a number of missed business opportunities.
One formal offer for the 313-hectare site was rejected earlier this year, an offer described as fair and reasonable by the council but “fairly inadequate” by landowner Max Carter.
Councillors will vote on whether to apply a public acquisition overlay on the property at a meeting next week.
If approved, the decision will be forwarded onto the planning minister, who will have the final say.
Legal options are available to the Carter family should the overlay be imposed, but Max wouldn’t be drawn on whether it was being considered.
“We’ve got councillors who may only be in for one term and it looks like they’re going to take down a hundred year-old business,” a resigned Mr Carter said at his property on Wednesday.
“(Council should) start looking after your ratepayers….we don’t just kick our farmers off our land.”
The land, currently used to grow crops and run sheep, has been owned by the family for a number of generations.
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“There seems to be plenty of other areas the council could rezone rather than coming out onto this farmland,” said Mr Carter, who was also critical of the way the council approached the family regarding a sale.
City of Greater Bendigo chief executive officer Craig Niemann said the council had sent two letters to the Carters seeking conciliation and received a clear response rejecting their advances.
The first formal offer was sent by the council earlier in 2018.
Mr Niemann said seven other sites were considered by the council but the area in Marong was the most strategic, given its proximity to the Calder Highway and its position to access freight rail currently being upgraded as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
“It has been a long journey. The leadership role of the council is to provide for future growth. We would have liked to have negotiated this through,” he said.
Bendigo council estimates the business park will create 3500 jobs and Mr Niemann said it was incumbent on the council to improve job opportunities for an increasing population.
However the council will rely on state and federal funds for the first stage of development, which could cost $25 million.