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History of PGLOA

The Early Years

As part of the process to achieve and maintain high standards of dwelling design, landscape and environmental standards for the Port Geographe Development, the vendor proposed the creation of an “association” of landowners. This was intended to “regulate and control” the covenants of the Development Guidelines, and the landscaping and maintenance of common facilities. (Link to Covenants and General conditions on development pdf).

Interestingly there was even the requirement that the purchaser “shall join and maintain the association”.

That “association” when it came to be the PGLOA, had no statutory powers of course, but was guided by the conditions and covenants of the Development Plan. PGLOA became a strong advisory and advocacy organisation, whilst still claiming it mandate to seek the enforcements of the covenants and the provisions of the development plan.

The PGLOA was formally incorporated in under its initial constitution in 2001.

The objectives then were:

  • Be a catalyst for community action and activity
  • Be a spokesman for the community on issues involving the residents of Port Geographe
  • Represent the Port Geographe residents and land owners, on all matters of general community issues, to the City of Busselton, Land Developers, Government authorities and other relevant organisations
  • Provide support, encouragement and guidance for any sporting, cultural and social groups wishing to promote any activity in the Port Geographe area
  • Promote the Port Geographe area as a dynamic family community with a relaxed and healthy outlook.

After several procedural amendments, and a re-write in 2015 to conform to the model rules of the Associations Incorporation Act 20, the objectives remain the same as originally stated.

The PGLOA became operational in February 2001 under the management of current stalwarts Bob Godridge, John Valentine and Steve O’Brian. It received a grant of $200 from the Busselton Shire for “establishment costs and small projects”.

In May 2002 PGLOA agreed with the Busselton Shire to a differential rating system to provide funds for the maintenance of the waterways and the proximal coastal features, to be funded 75% by Port Geographe landowners and 25% by the Shire of Busselton. A more detailed background to the SAR issue is given in another section.

Records for PGLOA are incomplete for the first five years. However in 2006, under the stewardship of Jeff and Gail Priest, regular newsletters under the banner of Waters Edge were produced and more structured AGMs were held.

The first decade was full of challenging issues for Port Geographe, generally related to the poor performance of the groyne system at the entrance to the port, and the recurring financial stresses of the developers. The PGLOA committee faced many challenges in order to meet its objectives, and addressed many issues in partnership with the Shire, the succession of developers, and the ever changing government departments. In those difficult years issues included:

  • Agreement on SAR
  • Timing, mechanics and funding of by-passing of seagrass wrack and sand
  • Dust suppression on un-developed land
  • The H2S scare
  • Appointment of marine safety officers
  • Landscaping of parks and gardens
  • The footbridge fiasco
  • Canal flushing and circulation in enclosed waters
  • Policy on mechanical boat lifters
  • Participation in coastal studies

The first by-passing occurred in the Spring 2003 and became a yearly problem for the next decade. These problems related to complex interactions of underestimation of material movements in the littoral zone, financial stress of developers, controversies on responsibility for funding, and the adverse impacts on residents outside of the designated Port Geographe area.

The PGLOA committee under Peter McClurg (2009-2013) grappled with these complex issues, in concert with the Council, many government departments, and other community action groups. These issues were made more challenging in August 2012 when the developer (at that time Saracen and Macquarie JV) went into voluntary administration, and eventually into liquidation when the liability for coastal management exceeded the value of the security bonds.

It was not until 2013, after the granting of State Government funding of $28M for the re-alignment of the entry groynes, that the issue was decisively addressed. Re-construction commenced in July 2013 and was completed in May 2015.

Background to SAR

Background to SAR

The Special Area Rate (SAR) has been levied since the first lots for the Port Geographe Development were rated by the Shire of Busselton in 1996/7. This was spelt out in the original Development Deed between the three proponents – the developer (then Axiom) , the antecedents of the current Department of Transport (DoT) and the then Busselton Shire.

By law, a SAR can be used only by the body that raises it (in this case the Busselton Shire/City), and used only for the designated purpose for which it was established, which in this case is for the maintenance of the Port Geographe foreshore and waterways.

The purpose of the additional rate was to pay for the future maintenance of the coastal (beach) strip immediately west and east of Port Geographe, as well as the entrance channel and associated waterways. This was to become a Busselton Shire/City responsibility once the project was completed by the developer. Because the developer went into liquidation in 2012, this handover never happened.

Under the terms of the development deed, a special fund called the Port Geographe Waterways Management Reserve Fund (WMRF) was established by Busselton Shire for the “benefit of the harbour entrance, harbour bed, canals, breakwaters, and groynes”.

It was further acknowledged in the deed that the Shire/City was to undertake sand and seagrass bypassing, after completion of the development. It was intended that the amount in the WMRF should build up to more than the cost of one year’s bypassing to cover some of this cost.

With the construction of public boat ramp facility by the original developer, which is now used profusely by the general public to navigate via the Port Geographe waterways to Geographe Bay, the then Shire of Busselton initiated a community contribution to the WMRF taken from the total general municipality rate of the Shire. This amount was 25% of the total SAR collected each year from Port Geographe landowners.

However in 2003/4 the Shire for unexplained reasons, opened a new reserve fund called the Port Geographe Development Fund into which the 25% municipality contribution was redirected. Then in 2013 the City totally abolished the community contribution. This separate fund had about $580,000 at the beginning of the 2015/16 fiscal year.

In 2014 after the successors to the original developer (a party to the original Port Geographe Development Deed) went into administration and eventual receivership, Busselton City and Department of Transport (DoT) developed a new Port Geographe Management Agreement for coastal and waterway management. This was to apply after completion of the reconfiguration of the port entrance. Significantly it did not have the further involvement of any developer.

PGLOA as an interested party, unsuccessfully sought to re-negotiate the terms of the SAR during the development of the new management deed. Our submission to the City is referenced here (PGLOA Report on Special Area Rate Jan 2014).

The City took no notice of this carefully researched and well reasoned submission.

Coastal Management

Coastal Management

Following the completion of the port works in May 2015, Department of Transport (DoT) has the ongoing responsibility for the performance of the reconfigured coastal structures. DoT will provide yearly updates on the monitoring and proposed maintenance works.

PGLOA has a vested interest in coastal management, not only because it is the key signature of our precinct, but more importantly, because Port Geographe landowners are in part financing these activities through the SAR  contribution to the Waterways Management Reserve Fund. This vested interest is even more heightened by the fact that the extent of the designated Port Geographe Coastal Management Area (PGCMA), to which we are contributing, extends well beyond the SAR catchment zone.

The 2015 Update by DoT noted the much improved natural by-passing in the first winter, and can be viewed on the Departments website.

Notwithstanding this, in late 2105 DoT undertook a substantial sand-trucking and deposition program on Wonnerup Beach, euphemistically called “nourishment”.

As an involved stakeholder, PGLOA is on the DoT mailing list, and has received the 2016 Update – which is not yet on the DoT website. This describes the continued good performance of the reconfiguration, but notes an accumulation of sand and seaweed in the port entry channel requiring immediate dredging. The 2016 Update also calls for a further small sand “nourishing” program for Wonnerup Beach, but states that the western beach be left alone for another winter season.

The PGLOA Committee considers the eastern side of the Port Geographe Marina (that is Wonnerup Beach) should also be left alone, to enable the coast to settle down and the littoral drift to do its job. At present there is no evidence of erosion but only small pockets of sand “starving”.

It is well documented the Wonnerup beach profile has historically experienced seasonal losses and gains of sand, well before the Marina was built. The apparent effects of “erosion” in the 2015 winter relates to overfilling of the beach.

PGLOA believe it un-necessary to further add “nourishment” to the beach

profile in this area, only to have it taken away by the prevailing long-shore drift. The beach profile here is slowly coming to equilibrium.

We recommend the situation be further assessed after the third winter, before any further works are contemplated.

Landscaping

Landscaping

PGLOA maintains a watching brief on parks and gardens in the area, and ensures a close liaison with the Busselton City.

Following the completion of the landscaping associated with the fore-shore re-development, PGLOA submitted a report to City entitled Infrastructure Defects at Port Geographe – Maintenance Issues – Duty of Care. This led to the production of a significant report entitled Pride in our Community dated 23 March 2015. This report identified areas of opportunity and neglect outside of the foreshore redevelopment.

This report identified localities such as the old western groyne, the precinct of Sensations Café, the unimproved reserve at Lanyard-Layman intersection, Keel Retreat beach, and the Layman Road entry, as areas requiring attention.

In general terms it advocated higher levels of maintenance, and greater use of reticulated bore water to support native shrubs and lawn, rather than overuse of woodchip and mulch.

In May 2107 we were advised of additional landscaping in response to Pride in our Community for the FY 2017-18. (see link to 170522 – BCC Landscaping Projects FY17-18). These will involve landscaping of the footbridge approaches, a BBQ facility on the western side of the port entrance, restoration of median strips, additional parklands, and most importantly, deep water bores for reticulation . The monies will come from the recovery of old developer bonds.

PGLOA reminds its residents that the SAR they pay is for waterways and coastal strip management, not precinct landscaping. PGLOA also reminds Busselton City that the 25% community contribution that initially went into the Waterways Management Reserve Fund, was subsequently diverted into a Port Geographe Development Reserve, and as of 2013 totally abolished. PGLOA advocates that this latter fund should be used for capital improvements and landscape refurbishment at Port Geographe precinct, to partly offset the iniquities of the SAR.

Layman Road through the tuart forrest and Wonnerup is the second major entry to Busselton from the north. It is a designated tourist route.  Layman Road as it enters Port Geographe precinct should therefore present an attractive entry statement for visitors. The present entry statement has promise but is depreciated by the avenue of Casuarina trees that are unsightly, damaging and dirty.

PGLOA has initiated a tree replacement program, and is in consultation with landscape professionals from the City of Busselton and Aigle Royal to design a more suitable avenue.

Contact

Committee 2016-17

Chairman                         Kevin Strapp

Deputy Chairman        John Valentine

Secretary                         Dennis Gee

Treasurer                         Simon Denney

Committee                     Steve O’Brien, Ross Scott,
Graeme Edwards & Gail Priest

General contact