The Range News is Maleny's premium Weekly Newspaper delivered each Friday
to the People of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland from Glasshouse to
Kenilworth and west to Peachester.

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M.P. Calls for input from State on
Montville Country Club proposal

by Simon Roper

Member for Nicklin Peter Wellington has called on the Government to intervene in the ongoing argument over a golf course and country club development at Montville.

Residents are divided about the project, which if approved will see 350 new homes, 150 retirement cottages and 120 tourist accommodation units built, in addition to a championship golf course.  Some people view the proposal as a good plan for Montville that will bring associated benefits.   Others think it’s just too big for their village.   The MP believes that these warring factions are causing a rift in the Blackall Range community and that arbitrary action is a must.  Maroochy Shire Councillor Greg Rogerson said Government action was definitely “on the cards”.

Mr Wellington said the Government should “urgently investigate this proposal and advise if they believed State interests were involved and accordingly trigger the Ministers’ Call-In powers”.  The MP for Nicklin has just presented a petition to the Government containing 1397 names against Links’ expansion plan for Montville.

This petitions’ signatories are requesting the “Call-In” powers of the office of Urban Management, headed by MP Terry Mackenroth, to be used to prevent the development being approved by the Maroochy Shire Council.  Interestingly, Mr Wellington has also tabled petitions from supporters of the project.  Still, while his constituents argue, he’s already stated that he has no definite opinion on the merits or otherwise of the development of the project without “independent technical advice”.

Exacerbating angst in the township further are claims and counter claims from both sides.  A Flaxton resident contacted TRN last week, questioning the validity of the Montville/Flaxton sub-committee of Blackall Range Land Usage Planning Association, a group opposed to the Links development.  His concern stems from TRN’s front-page story two weeks ago that extensively quoted the BRLUPA offshoot.    In a letter to TRN, Jeffrey Hodges said the sub-group was a closed society and thus misrepresentative of the views of the entire area.

“The fact is that it is not a debate over the status quo versus Country Club,’’ said Mr Hodges.  “Remember, the Country Club is proposing 500 residences over the next ten years, so we should compare MCC with what the alternative would be in ten years.   Contrary to Cheryl’s statements in the story, there is nothing in the Council plan that would stop the kind of developments which have already occurred on the Range and which will continue, with or without the country club.

“So the debate should be between whether we as a community want 500 more rural residences on 2-10acre allotments with all the extra roads and acres of ‘valuable agricultural land’ going to waste growing kikuyu and weeds.   Or whether we want to have a more condensed living area with more public open space and services and facilities for the benefit of everyone, and which would provide jobs and increased income for local businesses.”  Mr Hodges also questioned the credibility of spokesperson Cheryl Keith in properly interpreting the environmental effect of the Links development on Montville and its surrounding area.

“Unlike Cheryl Keith, I have considerable credibility in making such evaluations,” said Mr Hodges, who has a Bachelor of Science in Australian Environmental Studies and is a Master of Science in Social Ecology. He’s also Vice President of the Montville Parents and Citizens Association.

Ms Keith has said the development goes against the Maroochy Plan 2000.   She said recently the best way to avoid future ad-hoc development was to stick to the rules and abide by the Plan.  “If we stick to the Maroochy Plan 2000 there is no threat of piecemeal development – simply because the plan does not allow for it.”

She said Montville/Flaxton sub-committee members were all members of BRLUPA, which was an incorporated association.  She said the sub-committee was set up purely to investigate the Links project and communicate the groundswell of public opinion against it.  As for the doubts about her committee’s judgement Mrs Keith said that “we know exactly what is going on and have done from the minute Links set up shop in Montville at the beginning of the year”.

She added that their deductions had been made with the help of consultants and a thorough knowledge of all media surrounding the project.  With petitions being raised both for and against the project, the validity of the opinions of people canvassed is yet another flash point issue.  Ms Keith and BRLUPA’s president Richard McDonald told TRN that petitions against the development total over 4000 names with many signatories from outside the area.

Long-term Montville resident and former MVA President Bryan McLennan said some of the signatures were way out of the area, coming from as far afield as the United Kingdom.  “I saw a copy of the first 1900 signatures.

They had and only about 10 percent originated from Montville itself,” he said. “We have a realistic petition which carries local sentiment and which is growing even without us knocking on everybody’s door or stopping them in the street.”  And Councilor Rogerson has gone on the record as saying the project wasn’t being given a fair go because of campaign misinformation.  He cautioned that council wouldn’t approve an unsuitable development anyway, should the decision be left with them.

Ms Keith said given the township’s tourist lure signatories from visitors made them just as relevant.  “Everyone has conceded that Montville is a tourist destination,” said Ms Keith.  “So if we have people stating that they would not come back to Montville if this development went ahead, that has to count for something as it would completely upset the Blackall Range economy.”

Currently Brian McLennan, who is a consultant town planner for Links, said he was building a petition for parliament of about 300 local residents who want Links to build its country club and associated housing.  Ms Keith said of the 1397 signatories presented by the MP for Nicklin to Government on their behalf, 600 came from Montville locals.

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.