Division over future of land

The future of a large vacant block at Millicent divided Wattle Range Council at its March monthly meeting.

After 75 minutes of debate in open and closed session, council rejected a notice of motion from Councillor Dale Price in a six/five vote.

Ahead of the meeting, Cr Price had sought to progress the development of the council-owned parcel of land fronting Mount Gambier Road.

Measuring almost eight hectares (19 acres), it had been a pine plantation for decades until 2015 and overlooked the aptly named Pines Service Station.

A closed session of the January 2015 meeting accepted a tender from Whitehead Timber Sales Pty Ltd for the harvesting and haulage of council’s pine plantations at Millicent and elsewhere and for the sale of the timber products.

After the trees had been cleared, the land had been listed for a sale with a local real estate firm for $250,000. The zoning is “primary production” and the neighbours include established houses and the Hillview Caravan Park.

The motion from Cr Price had sought for council to investigate all options for the development of the land.

During 15 minutes of open debate, Cr Price suggested the five titles which make up the parcel could be re-aligned to make rural living allotments. Council chief executive Ben Gower said council policy was for him to sell the land at market value and was recently in receipt of an offer for it.

As a result, Cr Price said it was appropriate for the meeting to be closed to the public to discuss the offer and this was endorsed. The private talks lasted for an hour.

When the meeting reopened, an unsuccessful bid was made by councillors Kevin McGrath and Sharon Cox to adjourn the debate until the April monthly meeting.

Cr Price’s motion was then put and supported by himself and Crs Graham Slarks, Rick Paltridge, Dean Burrow and Deb Agnew.

Members voting in negative were Crs Cox, McGrath, John Drew, Peter Dunnicliff, Dennis Muhovics and Moira Neagle.

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