I have put together a bit of a timeline about the pathways as a lot of Jan Juc residents seem a bit unsure about what has happened. I hope you find this useful.
On December 1st 2009 the council sent letters to 1866 property owners in Jan Juc advising them “of the proposed pathway construction within Jan Juc and the associated Special Charge Scheme to assist in funding the project.
The council expected property owners to 81% of the scheme cost.
Property owners were invited to make submissions re the Scheme with a deadline of January 5th 2010 – over the holiday period!!
With the help of a group of determined residents an unprecedented number of submissions were received –
“It was revealed that council received 892 objections lodged on time but a further 50 late objections were ruled invalid.
"If we had counted the 50 objections ruled ineligible because of lateness then this scheme would have been defeated," Cr Northeast said.
Under the Local Government Act a special charge scheme for footpaths cannot go ahead if more than 50 per cent of affected residents object in writing.
Some objectors were against the pathways, some were against being charged and some were against both.
The council’s reasoning - Proposed Precinct approach to pathway construction
The Precinct approach to pathways bundles together Jan Juc pathways listed in Council’s 2005 Pathway Strategy that are within a common area. A Special Charge Scheme has been prepared, but instead of benefits being apportioned to the abutting properties only, the benefits will be apportioned to properties n receive a benefit from the proposed pathway network by way of access.
As is the case with the traditional approach, the abutting property owners will receive the greatest benefit in terms of access because they will have a new pathway running directly past their properties. It is intended that the benefits to the non abutting properties will be determined on a graded scale i.e. the further the property is away from a newly constructed pathway, the less the benefit becomes and the less the property owner pays.
March 24th 2010 council declares the Special Charge Scheme but reduces the number of paths to be constructed.
A group of 67 property owners lodged an appeal to VCAT – one of the property owners is a solicitor and worked pro bono.
15th February 2011 – the VCAT hearing was held and found that the scheme was unfair and it was overturned.
Council decided to proceed with a Supreme Court Appeal against the VCAT finding on 25th May 2011
ACA (A Current Affair) filmed a story about the unhappy property owners in Jan Juc on 31st May. The story was seen by a Barrister in Melbourne who offered the residents his services pro bono to attend the Supreme Court.
21st November 2011 - The Supreme court ruling sets aside the VCAT order and directs the matter to be reheard by VCAT.
May 23rd 2012 – council votes to change their policy on Special Charge Schemes in response to community backlash but Jan Juc Scheme is subject to the old policy.
15th June 2012 – Second VCAT hearing reinstates the scheme and grants exemption for 22 of the 67 properties (whose owners had lodged the appeal)on the basis that the properties are more than 400metres from any pathway.
25th July – council resolved to proceed with the scheme but to exclude an additional 200 properties that were also more than 400 metres from new works. Increased council’s contribution to 50% of the total cost.
Notices for payment sent in December 2013 after many delays and complaints of shoddy work.