Flooding issues addressed by the City of Victor Harbor

COSTLY: Stock Road resident Ben Blatchford with City of Victor Harbor CEO Victoria MacKirdy at Swains Crossing where there are flood warnings.
COSTLY: Stock Road resident Ben Blatchford with City of Victor Harbor CEO Victoria MacKirdy at Swains Crossing where there are flood warnings.

Crozier Hill Estate has been an issue in the community of Victor Harbor for many years. There have been deputations to council and community forums on the issue.

The controversy has been regarding the planning approval for a sub-division of the land into 40 allotments in 1999 by council. The land is on a floodplain where the Inman River flows through Swains Crossing and impacts on properties off Stock Road.

Stock Road property owners Ben Blatchford, Stephen Nicholls and Nick Hall have raised the alarm bells of their concerns and researcher Adrian Burton presented to a forum at the council chambers in 2018.

Mr Burton's researched opinion is that the community missed out on a "pristine ecological reserve".

"Evidence indicates that allotments totalling an area of approximately eight hectares (or about 20 acres) are located within the flood-plain and that flood-plain land, which was intended to be vested to the local community was approved by council and sold for profit by the developer," Mr Burton wrote.

Mr Burton's investigation was thorough and widely applauded by those who attended and raised doubts on what maps were used for the approval of the development in 2000.

"It is alleged elected members of the time were unsure of where the floodplain started and whether allotments were inside or outside of the 1/100 year floodplain. There is so much confusion and it is apparent council went against its own planning Principles," Mr Burton said.

Mr Blatchford has been determined throughout the past decade to find answers.

"Ratepayers, due to council decisions, have lost millions of dollars worth of prime Inman floodplain reserve.

"The floodplain boundary has never been verified and so the Development Act has been breached in my opinion. The 1999 DPA was excellent and the subdivision was to be fantastic for ratepayers and excellent protection for residents and remove liability from council, but the relevant principles to achieve this have been ignored allowing the developer to sell floodplain, leaving council and residents at risk," Mr Blatchford said.

"It saddens me all the facts Adrian (Burton) has put together is ignored by elected members. A disgrace."

Peter Charles at Stock Road where flooding occurs.

Peter Charles at Stock Road where flooding occurs.

City of Victor Harbor CEO Victoria MacKirdy inherited the saga in January 2018 and has tried to solve the issue.

Under her leadership council referred the Crozier Hill Development Investigation to the Local Government Mutual Liability Scheme and the final report found "the rezoning was undertaken according to law and the council approval of the rezoning is valid".

At its meeting on November 23, 2020, council supported the release of the investigation report that provided council with an overview of the matter and a summary of the review that had been undertaken.

"The Crozier Hill Estate development and issues relating to it have been the subject of substantial public discussion both within the Council Chamber and out of it for a number of years," Ms MacKirdy said.

"This is a long-standing and complex matter that dates back more than 20 years and spans a number of administrations. Following extensive reviews and investigations, it is clear that the decision made by council some 20 years ago surrounding the original sub-division was valid and undertaken according to law."

"The investigation report dispels allegations of wrongdoing and it is our hope that the council can move on and focus our resources on the future."

"There are many areas within Victor Harbor that are prone to flooding. It is the council's role to put appropriate mitigations in place and to be proactive in flood management taking into consideration budgetary constraints and infrastructure priorities."

Ms MacKirdy said council had progressed a significant review of its stormwater management since 2017, with the previous review undertaken in 2010.

"The current review has included extensive flood mapping of the council area, which will help us to continue to improve the capacity of our system and set priorities for future works.

"The Local Government Mutual Liability Scheme final report which council has resolved to make public will hopefully assist in providing some detail in relation to how issues arising from the Crozier Hill development have been dealt with over the past couple of years and how they will be dealt with in the future," she said.

"Having received clear advice that the decisions of council in relation to the original re-zoning and subsequent land division were lawful there seems little to be gained by further debate about those issues.

"I sincerely hope that the many other important aspects of council's work with the community can be the focus of attention going forward."

Councillor Peter Charles has been a supporter of Mr Blatchford and other Stock Road residents.

"I know during my first four years on council I repeatedly questioned council and because of my questioning I believe have been marginalised and punished for seeking a fair solution," Cr Charles said.

"It has been a long crazy debacle which has been allowed to fester for some 20 years, And therefore has cost the community hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions.

"Further the aim of the exercise for me is to see the full area of flood plain returned to reserve replanted with native flora pertaining to the Inman river area."

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