Owners fight to save homes

Owners fight to save homes

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Aileen and Tim Mckay are some of the property owners fighting back after reclassification of their land may deem it worthless. Photograph by Richard Polden.

A group of Harrisdale residents are fighting back after their properties were recently reclassified, meaning they could be seized by the State Government without compensation.

The properties, comprising of nine lots bordered by Ranford Rd, Skeet Rd, Ballanup Rd and an incomplete section of Reilly Rd, have been designated as wetlands following an environmental report completed as part of a development process for a proposed housing estate.

Homeowners on the property, including Ken and Aileen McKay, who host the Harrisdale Men’s Shed, are objecting to the reclassification, which was made by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservations and Attractions, and say an environmental study they have commissioned supports their claim.

A designation of the land as wetlands means that, once it is formally included in a structure plan for the development, properties within the wetlands buffer zone can be seized by the government without compensation.

The City of Armadale is likely to consider the development structure plan later this year, but Monday’s council meeting laid some of the groundwork.

Residents Bernie Blake, Richard Henderson and Aileen and Tim McKay, along with their daughter Melissa Zapelli, attended the meeting, where a motion to rezone the properties was on the table.

The residents stood to ask questions of the sitting councillors during public question time.

“How can the City of Armadale progress a structure plan that will likely cause irreparable damage to our land,” Ms Zapelli asked council.

Considering a motion that was, ultimately, unanimously carried to rezone the area from general rural to urban development, Cr Michael Hancock put forward an amendment that effectively removed three of the properties – Lots 604, 605 and 606 – from being rezoned.

This means council is potentially more able to preclude these properties from the forthcoming structure plan, however that will be decided at a later meeting.

In the meantime, however, residents are determined to continue their fight.

“It is a complex situation and still has a way to play out but as more people are becoming aware of what has happened and why, things are shifting,” Ms Zapellei wrote in a facebook post on Wednesday, thanking those from various government departments and media outlets for their support.

“I am all for protecting real wetlands. What has happened to my parents and their neighbours is simply wrong.

“We have garnered a lot of support and I will continue to fight this.”