A NUMBER of residents have indicated they will move if a proposed residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility is built at Dennington, according to Richard Ziegeler.
He was talking about his concerns at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing in Warrnambool on Tuesday.
Mr Ziegeler said land owners in the area did not want their "homes destroyed" and "neighbourhood changed so radically".
He said he would no longer feel comfortable leaving his wife Kerry alone at the property.
Mr Ziegeler said he had lost a lot of sleep thinking about the possibility the facility may be given the green light.
"I'm already a nervous wreck," Mr Ziegeler said. "I've had more sick leave than I've ever had in my 43 year career."
Mr Ziegeler said he believed a number of members of the proposed facility's own steering committee had reservations about the site.
He said one member was heard to say he wouldn't want the facility next to his own home unless there was a 12 foot chain mesh fence around it.
Mrs Ziegeler also spoke at the hearing, saying she was concerned some of the clients at the facility may choose to leave via neighbouring properties.
"I spend a lot of my time worrying about The Lookout centre and what's going to happen," she said.
Murray Kingsley, who has worked with people battling drug and alcohol issues, said he had been experiencing a feeling of helplessness with regard to the proposal.
He said he was extremely concerned about the possibility of being in close proximity to a residential rehabilitation facility.
Mr Kingsley said Dennington residents were not opposed to the facility at a different site.
He said they had supported it by contributing to the fund-raising appeal.
Town planning expert Kirsten Kilpatrick said a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility on farming land would not be appropriate, a town planning expert told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Tuesday.
Kirsten Kilpatrick said the Warrnambool City Council planning scheme stated it was important to protect agricultural land.
Ms Kilpatrick also said she believed the facility should be characterised as a hospital and would be better suited in a closer proximity to other health services such as South West Healthcare's Warrnambool Base Hospital.
She said the proposed facility was "outside of what was ever envisaged in a farming zone".
Ms Kilpatrick also said she believed there needed to be more investigation into the increased risk of bushfire.
She was asked by Andrew Walker on behalf of the applicant whether she was aware that the Country Fire Authority had not raised any red flags in relation to the application.
"I would argue there hasn't been a robust enough investigation," Ms Kilpatrick said.
He asked her whether she believed this could be addressed in a condition imposed as part of the application.
She responded yes.
Mr Walker also questioned whether she would reconsider her assessment that the facility should be classified as a hospital given it would have no medical doctors, no nurses, no hospital beds, no pharmacy, no surgical procedures would be carried out on-site and there would be no ambulances or an ambulance bay.
Ms Kilpatrick said it could be argued that the definition of a hospital bed could apply to a facility that provides counselling services.
"A hospital bed can be used in fact for counselling services - it doesn't mean you have to have a drip in your arm," she said.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.