A well-attended community meeting held last week to discuss the possibility of adding an emergency escape route to a Whitby housing estate reportedly turned sour with many people saying the shire shifted the blame and washed their hands of any responsibility in the initial planning of the development.
The Whitby Residents Association invited the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale to attend the meeting on Tuesday, January 21, which was attended by Shire President Michelle Rich, the shire’s director of development services Andrew Trosic, Mundijong Volunteer Fire Brigade captain Jason White, Member for Darling Range Alyssa Hayden and close to 50 residents of the estate.
Although the shire president said she believes that the shire officers provided factual and relevant information at the meeting, this was not agreed upon by resident in attendance Christopher Jacobs and Member for Darling Range Alyssa Hayden.
They believe the shire staff passed the buck at the meeting and washed their hands of any responsibility to be able to influence the conditions put forward in the approval of the development, which was approved in 2014.
“The biggest disappointment was that the shire took no responsibility whatsoever for the development and I was a little shocked to hear the planner say that the shire has no input into developments,” Mrs Hayden said.
“I disagree with that as all development applications go through local government for them to put forward any recommendations, changes and conditions. In this case there has been quite a few conditions put through by local government, also by Main Roads and the Department of Environment, and that the developer had to meet all those requirements before the approval went through and the shire then approved it after the conditions were met.
“To say to the people of Whitby that the shire had no role to play and their hands were tied, I don’t think is giving the people of Whitby the truth or the full facts.”
Mrs Hayden said she spoke to the developer the day after the meeting and the developer has since said they are eager and willing to facilitate an emergency exit out of the estate via the current construction route used by their trucks and other machinery.
However, in order for this to occur the shire would need to develop their section of Reilly Road and make it accessible to all vehicles.
The Examiner asked the shire if they had any funding to make Reilly Road an accessible road but its response was “not applicable”.
Mr Jacobs said he also had concerns about comments made at the meeting by the captain of the Mundijong Volunteer Fire Brigade.
“Our captain of our Mundijong Brigade told us that if there is a bushfire we need to assess whether or not it is safe to leave and, if it is not, because the one entrance in and out of the estate is blocked, we should go home, lock our doors and windows and have a drink,” he said.
“Our families are then sitting inside a locked house and we are just going to be sitting ducks.”
Mrs Hayden said she is happy to work with the developer and the shire for a resolution.
“We just need the shire to agree to develop Reilly Road, if they do Reilly Road the problem is solved,” she said.