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Controversial Land sale at Dalmeny only netted Council $3.8m

Finally it is revealed that Council has sold 40 hectares of land behind Dalmeny’s Tatiara Street to developer Andrew Scarano for just $4.7 million. This equates to ($3.84m Profit on Sale of land - Tatiara Street, Dalmeny’ as per the March Quarterly review that refers to the profit, that is, the book value plus the selling agent fee minus the sale price).

Contracts of sale were exchanged in October 2021, with the director of Heppa Constructions saying he was excited to secure the site, his first south coast development.

“It’s very early days and there is a lot of planning to be done but it is my intention this will be a quality development.” Initially it was rumoured that Council had sold it for $4 million, which, in the current market, was considered to be well below the cost the community were prepared to pay for the loss of the habitat and the impact the subdivision will have on the adjacent Mummuga Lake. The news of the minimal final sale price adds to the sour note that Council sold its Batemans Bay Visitor Information Centre for just $1.15 million and the Moruya Racecourse for just over a million. While the previous Innes/Dale Council did all it could to ensure these prices were not common knowledge the requirement that these transactions be publicly recorded in the financials allows a degree of transparency, if not as a evidence after the transaction. The Dalmeny property was sold by way of Expression of Interest that closed on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 by 4pm. CBRE Group, Inc were the exclusive agents and listed the property on their website. At the following Tuesday morning briefings to Councillors they were advised of the sale, however, staff withheld the final sale price. Councillor Pat McGinlay said at the time: "As a councillor, I was advised by staff, of this contract being signed for the first time yesterday at our regular councillor briefing session. Like anyone else with an interest in this issue, and there are many, my immediate questions were obvious: Who bought this sizable parcel of forested, formerly ratepayer-owned land? "And, again obviously, how much did they (whomever they are), agree to pay? . Staff declined to share that information however; so please don’t ask me as I do not as yet know the entity that has contracted to purchase the land, nor how much they agreed to pay". The Council of the day was not fully informed of the potential impact of subdivision until after they voted to sell the property with staff electing to present to Council, after the vote to sell, an extremely detailed draft report for public comment Anthony Mayne recently pointed out that:


“Just prior to the vote, Clr Lindsay Brown made an argument in favour of the sale, comparing clearing a coastal forest for housing, to killing a sheep in order to enjoy eating a lamb roast. Apparently, it is just the process we don’t like to think about. But once the forest is gone, like Clr Browns dinner, it is gone forever.” It seems that said consultants working on the Mummaga Lake environment coastal management plan, may have based their projections and recommendations in total ignorance of the massive potential environmental impact of the imminent clearing of the forest and bush land immediately adjoining the Mummaga lake/ecoll. In the Coastal Estuary Management Plan for Moruya River, Mummaga Lake and Wagonga Inlet there are multiple parts that reference Mummaga Lake. Note part 4.3.4 on page 59 on the risk of Urban runoff. In particular this quote is pertinent. The draft report from the consultants, known as Salients, says that in regard to Dalmeny/Mummaga Lake, that :


"The opportunity exists to put some effort into analysing and explaining the importance of urban stormwater impact from Dalmeny to the local community. Any study can also be used to inform future planning for the expected increase in population at Dalmeny over the next 15 years (10%).

In particular this quote is pertinent. The report from the consultants, known as Salients, says that in regard to Dalmeny/Mummaga Lake, that :


"The opportunity exists to put some effort into analysing and explaining the importance of urban stormwater impact from Dalmeny to the local community. Any study can also be used to inform future planning for the expected increase in population at Dalmeny over the next 15 years (~10%). The pertinent question is "Are the consultants anticipating just a 10% increase in population for the Dalmeny location over the next 15 years ? And they also classify this as a 'High' risk anyway?" Given that the proposed subdivision of the gully that feeds Mummaga will be in the order of several hundred new homes the "expected increase in population at Dalmeny over the next 15 years (~10%) " will be well exceeded. And all for $3.8 million.

When it was discovered that staff rolled out the Draft plan AFTER they had put to Council the sale of the land Councillor McGinlay wrote: "There needs to be an acknowledgement that the proposed razing and development of higher aspect Dalmeny forest and bush land as well as subsequent infrastructure diggings, road works, sewer installations, water pipe provision etc., must be seen as a part of the Mummaga Lake coastal management plan. Failure to do so could present a potential catastrophe of runoff of sediment fuelled stormwater to the detriment of the whole Mummaga Lake and surrounding ecosystem".

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