Melbourne Hill drain on locals

By Brianna Piazza & Michelle Pini

Published in the Warrandyte Diary, May 2013

Residents are angry Manningham councillors have decided to push ahead with a council proposal to install a kerbing and channeling drainage system in Melbourne Hill Road despite residents’ strong opposition to the scheme.

The March council meeting saw councillors pass the controversial proposal, despite a council-initiated survey indicating the vast majority of residents in the catchment do not approve the scheme, plus a community petition opposing the drainage proposal in its current form.

At an earlier community information meeting, council engineers told residents they estimated the cost would total $1.9 million and require each household in the catchment to pay between $5000 and $15,000.

Council officers had also advised affected ratepayers that as council was funding more than 50 per cent of the cost, they did not require resident support to proceed with the scheme. Property owners labelled the process “notification” rather than consultation.

Lorraine Avenue resident Peter Hookey shared his concerns with the Diary that property owners had been left in the dark since the March council meeting. They fear the wishes of the majority may not be heeded.

“Council is just not listening to us,” he said. They don’t get us. They expected to go ahead with the whole plan and steam-roller it through.”

Chief among resident concerns is the fact that flood-affected properties (numbering six in total), despite being below the flood-line, were built with council approval and without appropriate measures being taken to counteract flooding. They believe that property owners—112 of whom are unaffected by flooding and many of whom are pensioners—are now being asked to fund council’s short-sightedness.

Residents are also concerned about the proposed kerbing and channeling option (common in the more built-up areas of Doncaster and Templestowe) saying this will irreparably affect the amenity of the area.

Resident Catherine Watts said, “I appreciate something has to be done for the flood-affected homes, but kerbing and channeling in Melbourne Hill Road is abhorrent.”

Many believe that council has not properly maintained the drains and is now imposing what residents consider to be an expensive and inappropriate solution.

Adding to neighborhood unrest is the fact that ratepayers in adjacent streets such as Drysdale Road and Lorraine Avenue, have already contributed to an earlier council scheme which applied kerbing and channeling on one side of their streets. They are now being expected to pay again.

Residents say they want to know what other solutions have been explored and are awaiting notification of the next council meeting to discuss the future of the Melbourne Hill Road drainage proposal.

Manningham CEO Joe Carbone said, “Officers have been investigating the issues raised by residents about the initial drainage proposal and are in the process of arranging another public meeting.”

He added that the first stage of the survey is nearing completion and that affected residents would be informed about the next meeting once a date is set.

Melbourne Hill Road resident Andrea de Boer commented: “It seems incongruous that council had identified this problem long before it was raised with residents, invested significant ratepayer funds into investigating solutions, but did not allocate sufficient funds to address the solution.”

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Brianna Piazza

Journalist and travel writer.

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