Residents tell council to pay fair price or stay away
HOMEOWNERS are wary of being ripped off through zoning changes as the council looks to snaffle up some of the last remaining residential gems in Caloundra.
The Draft Caloundra Centre Master Plan has marked as numbered the days of residential housing on Omrah Ave as the Sunshine Coast Council is gradually acquiring properties along the street, but a group of locals are prepared to dig in, saying they've been in limbo for the past 15 years and their properties are irreplaceable.
A council spokeswoman said it had been council policy since 2001 to acquire properties as they could along the street, having purchased nine properties in that time.
The spokeswoman also said there was an opportunity for residents who wished to sell their homes to the council to rent their houses back until the council required the property.
The remaining homes sit in what has now been zoned a Community Facilities Zone under the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014.
Under the Draft Master Plan the street is identified as a "Community and Creative Hub", which could house the new transit centre and provide pedestrian connections to Oval Ave and Bowman Rd, the Master Plan's intentions for redevelopment to deliver a range of community activities including community facilities, education, accommodation and car parking.
A number of residents, including Maureen Beer, Jim Street, Les Sperling, Russell McKenzie and more aren't happy.
They say their properties have been gradually devalued for more than a decade through the planning process and are asking two questions. Why must their homes be obtained and if so, why aren't they being paid what they're worth?
However the council says that it is paying the true value of the properties and that the zoning change will not affect how market value is calculated when it comes time to sell.
Ms Beer had a valuation done on her home, which sits on a 708 sq m block, back in November, 2013.
The appraisal price was between $680,000 and $760,000. The agents referred to a similar property in Ormuz Ave that had recently sold for $800,000, albeit on a bigger block and deemed to be in a better location, but was judged an inferior home.
The property next door to Ms Beer - also on a 708 sq m block - was purchased by the council for $460,000 in July last year. Back in 2004 another Omrah Ave property was purchased for $850,000 by the council, according to RP Data.
Other conservative RP Data value estimates of properties along the street range from anywhere between the mid-to-late $400,000 mark to more than $600,000, although it's unclear if the estimates account for proximity to beaches, shops and other amenities.
Ms Beer's daughter's ashes are scattered in her backyard and the 65-year-old motel manager remained anxious about what the future held for she and her 96-year-old mother, holding off constructing a granny flat for her mother until the proposed Master Plan became clearer.
"It's quite traumatic. You actually get sick in the gut," she said.
Mr McKenzie said he couldn't understand why the council wasn't willing to pay the true value of the properties if they so desperately wanted to acquire them.
"We just want them to either be fair about it or just leave us alone," he said.
Deputy Mayor and Division 2 Councillor Tim Dwyer said any valuations and negotiations would be carried out assuming the site was zoned low-density residential with improvements or accounting for capacity to improve, in that current market.
He said he hoped to avoid going down the property resumption path "unless absolutely necessary" and said the council had a duty not to pay "ridiculous prices" but equally not to rip off ratepayers and ensure they received the fair market value and that was the only way he would support property acquisitions.
"It's about true value," Cr Dwyer said.
He said he welcomed owners getting valuations done and instigating negotiations with the council and that he would be "happy to talk to them and happy to pay good market value from a residential perspective".
Mr Sperling said their current location was "unequalled" in the area and that he could not find a better spot, adding he "wouldn't want to go even for the right price" and was also frustrated at the ongoing uncertainty.