How is it that landowners in the Bega Valley Shire can have permission to build a property on their land one day but not the next, without even knowing?
This is the question being asked by a growing chorus of local landowners, who are venting frustration at discovering their land has been reclassified and subsequently devalued.
Kiah residents Clyde and Jennie Thomas are two of those residents.
Mr Thomas, a quadriplegic, broke his neck in a car accident on Nethercote Rd about 30 years ago, while Mrs Thomas underwent her second operation to remove a brain tumor about 18 months ago.
Their daughter and son-in-law were considering building a home on a 16-hectare lot on the Thomases’ 121ha property in the hope they would be able to help out, but discovered the land had been reclassified as an environmental zone.
“We bought these lots in the hope that we’d be able to cut them up and sell them off. We’ve now been denied that opportunity,” Mr Thomas said. “That lot has the original Imlay Shire workshop slab still on there. There’s history of a couple of houses being on the place as well.
“But this property is now virtually worthless. There’s not enough pasture to make a living off it. These are, by and large, lifestyle blocks.”
The Thomases bought the lot in June 2002 and at one stage leased it to council as a garbage depot.
“It’s got everything going for it to build on. There’s people around here living on two acres, five acres. It’s like council is disregarding all of that,” Mr Thomas said.
They say the greatest frustration is the lack of consultation by council.
“The only consultation there may have been is they put an advertisement in the paper that it was going to happen,” Mr Thomas said.
“They should have a greater duty of care. We’ve been totally disenfranchised by this. It puts us in a terrible spot financially.
“All the other land we’ve bought here is now worthless. No-one wants to buy a block of land that they can’t do anything on.”
The Thomases story comes as the newly-formed Bega Valley Shire Farmers and Land Owners Group prepares for its second community forum to address environmental and rural zoning in the Bega Valley Shire.
The meeting will be held at Merimbula RSL on Thursday, October 19 from 6pm.
Council has been contacted for comment.