MOYNE Shire is calling for a state government review into a “puzzling” land deal in Port Fairy.
The parcel of land fronting Moyne River was legally awarded free of charge to a Melbourne man last year under a property claim known as adverse possession.
Council has doubts over the speedy timing and accuracy of the claim and is calling on South West Coast MP Denis Napthine to force a review of the decision.
The applicant, Peter John Mugavin, has met the claim requirements that include paying land rates and uninterrupted access to the land over 15 years.
But Moyne Shire is disputing both those claims using Mr Mugavin’s statutory declaration, obtained under freedom of information, that indicates Mr Mugavin paid rates on the land next door and has only had exclusive control of the land “since 2005”.
The Standard was unable to reach Mr Mugavin for comment yesterday.
The vacant lot, which is little more than marshland subject to flooding, is a popular spot with local anglers.
All six council members backed the motion by Cr James Purcell for a parliamentary review.
“I’m no detective but there are a lot of items included in the information provided in the FOI request that really don’t hold up,” Cr Purcell said.
“You need to have continuous use and that needs to be exclusive use. And you need to be paying rates on it or some other form.
“I don’t believe either of those has been proven in this case.
“The applicant himself says he hasn’t been paying rates on it — he put it quite vaguely that he was paying rates on the property next door.”
Cr Purcell said this was at odds with titles office files that showed Mr Mugavin had paid rates on the land.
Moyne Shire has objected twice to the possession claim in 2009 and in October 2012.
Other councillors also held similar concerns over the timing of the process, with a number saying they had been approached by the community on the matter.
Cr Mick Wolfe gave tentative support, arguing council should only seek “a review of the umpire’s decision”.
“I think it’s created a lot of doubt, query and suspicion in a lot of minds of people in the community that we want clarified,” Cr Wolfe said.
“If this review occurs by the state government, we’ll be satisfied the right decision was made or we take another step to have the original decision rectified.”
Fellow councillor Colin Ryan said “there have been questions asked by the community and I think an inquiry is justified”.