WEST Wimmera Shire councillors believe VicRoads’ proposal to acquire land at Serviceton is ‘out of the blue’.The Mail-Times reported on Friday that VicRoads wants to construct a new rest area adjacent to the South Australian border on the Western Highway.
WEST Wimmera Shire councillors believe VicRoads’ proposal to acquire land at Serviceton is ‘out of the blue’.
The land is owned by Bevan and Grace Grosser, who run an almond processing plant and shop, Lockhart Almonds, on the property.
West Wimmera councillors discussed the proposal at a council meeting on Thursday night and were due to decide whether they wanted to retain the role of planning authority or give the role to VicRoads.
Mayor Bruce Meyer said council needed more information before making a decision.
“For this business to operate, a shed is vital,” he said.
“If compulsory acquisition goes ahead, another shed will need to be built.
"We are totally unaware of the discussion made between the two parties.
"We need more information before we can go on.”
Cr Meyer said he was disappointed VicRoads had not discussed the site with council.
“We have been part of the discussion to find a spot for a roadside stop for many years,” he said.
“We met VicRoads last month and they never mentioned the subject.
“I find it odd that they are moving on compulsory acquisition so quickly and this seems like it is out of the blue and being rushed through.”
He said council had a big decision ahead.
“As a council, we also need to advocate on behalf of the landowner,” he said.
“But we can’t take sides because we don’t have the knowledge to do so.”
Cr Ron Hawkins said it was council’s responsibility to ‘fight the good fight’ but it needed to be cautious.
He said he was also disappointed by the lack of discussions from VicRoads.
The proposed rest stop will be opposite the existing Tolmer rest area.
Infrastructure general manager Robyn Evans said a new rest stop would improve safety on the highway.
“At the moment traffic has to cut across the road to enter the rest stop,” she said.
“Ideally, having stops opposite each other will keep the traffic flow going in the same direction.”
VicRoads western regional director Ewen Nevett said the Victorian Rest Area Strategy included having parking bays a maximum distance of 30 kilometres apart on major Victorian roads.
“The Tolmer rest area site is a road safety concern for VicRoads due to motorists making u-turns and turning into oncoming traffic to enter the area,” he said.
“These types of vehicle movements are dangerous on the Western Highway and a multiple fatality occurred in September 2003 at this site.”
Mr Nevett said VicRoads had approached the landowner and had discussions throughout the year about the processes of negotiation or compulsory land acquisition.
“VicRoads will discuss options with West Wimmera Shire Council and the landowner to explore a mutually beneficial outcome,” he said.