YEARS of fighting with the City of Greater Bendigo hit boiling point yesterday with a Marong family forcing council officers and contractors off their property.
Max and Pauline Carter have been in battle with council for eight years and face losing 300 hectares of farmland. The land is to be compulsorily acquired to make way for a proposed industrial business park on the Calder Highway, which the City of Greater Bendigo believes is central to the region’s future economic development.
Bendigo police were called to the property to keep the peace as Mr and Mrs Carter demanded the council officers and contractors get off their land, which has been in the Carter family for more than 90 years. After a brief confrontation, the council officers and contractors left the property.
Principal lawyer for Melbourne-based Russell Kennedy law firm Andrew Sherman said contractors had come to the property to carry out tests on the water but no further action would be taken for the rest of the day.
“It’s caused incredible distress to the land owners so we’re going to come off site,” he said.
Mr Carter said he was notified on Thursday afternoon that council contractors would be coming to the property.
He said he advised the council via email that the gates would be locked and the council was not to go on the property.
“The council has brought consultants onto our land illegally.
“I’ve asked them to move off our property and then I’ve threatened to remove them.
“We really didn’t expect this kind of confrontation today.”
Mr Carter said the council officers and contractors had come onto the property through a makeshift wire gate that he had secured and bound with extra wire.
“This has been going on for eight years and we’re not giving up.
“The only reason they want the land is for monetary gain.
“The council wants to subdivide and then sell the land to make a huge profit.”
City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Rod Campbell said the council’s next action would be to seek a court order from its legal representation and to confirm the legalities of its actions and intentions.
“The investigations are critical to the Marong Business Park project, because they will determine whether the site is appropriate for rezoning as industrial land for further development.
“Until we have the results from the tests, a decision cannot be made about whether the property is suitable for such a development.
“The council and its representatives have the right under the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986 to enter the property and carry out the investigations.”
Cr Campbell said the tests were a general inspection and survey, soil and geotechnical sampling and testing, groundwater testing via bores (with some to remain as monitoring bores), flora and fauna, and indigenous and post-settlement heritage assessments.
“Everything is being done to ensure the tests create minimal inconvenience for the landowner, who is entitled to receive compensation for the impact that the investigations may have on the property.”