Members will have seen local press reports on a proposal to develop land at Tarran Valley in the Sandy Creek area, 2 kilometres from Maldon, on the north side of the Maldon-Castlemaine road.
The development proposal, first put up in 2006, involves rezoning the 125 hectare lot from Farming to Rural Living zone and the building of 42 houses.
FOBIF objected to the original proposal before a planning panel on the grounds that the area is fire prone: radical fuel reduction measures in the adjacent Maldon Historic Reserve would be required to ensure safety of the new residents–and these would have damaging ecological effects.
The panel report, completed just before the catastrophe of Black Saturday 2009, did not list bushfire safety as an issue, and approved the rezoning. The Mount Alexander Shire adopted the rezoning in March 2009, but—newly conscious of the bushfire threat— added the important proviso that ‘Council expects the Minister may modify the Amendment [to the planning scheme] in light of recommendations of the Royal Commission into the recent bushfires.’ The proposal has been in limbo since then.
In July last year the Planning Minister, Matthew Guy, referred the matter to the state’s Bushfire Management Overlay Standing Committee. The committee will hold a hearing on May 7 on the matter, and will hear from Council, the proponent, the CFA, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and Parks Victoria. FOBIF will attend the hearing, and submit a statement, but cannot speak. The focus of the panel is the fire risk: other matters [like whether the development is a good idea generally] are not under discussion.
Details of the panel and submissions to it can be found here.