The regional catchment management authority is taking Moyne Shire Council to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal over the council's decision to grant two planning permits in a flood-prone part of Port Fairy.
The decision came after councillors voted at the June open council meeting to reject the recommendations of council planning officers for two adjacent properties on Griffiths Street.
The low-lying blocks fell partially within the inundation overlay in the latest flood modelling produced for Moyne Shire's C69 planning amendment, prompting the Glenelg Hopkins CMA to write to planning officers recommending both applications be rejected.
Council officers followed the authority's advice, writing that the permits shouldn't be granted, but all seven councillors disagreed, with Cr Karen Foster saying "common sense has to prevail here".
In response, the GHCMA has applied to VCAT appealing the council decision, a process that could involve thousands of dollars in legal fees.
"The GHCMA is concerned that the advice that provided to Moyne Shire Council was not fully taken into consideration, and the decisions to grant permits may increase the risk to life in the event of a flood," a spokesperson for the authority said.
"The CMA has therefore applied to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal to seek a review of the decisions of the Moyne Shire Council. Given these matters are before VCAT, the CMA will not be providing further comment."
The decision by the councillors means council will have to argue a position at VCAT that it opposed at the June meeting.
"GHCMA have the right to appeal the decision as per the normal process, council will take the position adopted by councillors at the June meeting at any hearing," a council spokesman said.
Cr Foster said she respected the GHCMA's stance, but stood by her view that "common sense has to prevail".
"In this case, I think the property owners could be justifiably very angry if they bought the property in good faith, only to be told at this point they can't build their home there because of the potential for a one in 100-year event to block their driveway," she said.
Cr James Purcell said he was "very surprised" at the appeal and believed the GHCMA were going "beyond their remit".
"The GHCMA are only a referral authority, so they can provide advice but we don't have to follow it," he said.
"If the government wanted them to have authority over that, they would have given them that power."
A practice day hearing is set for August 26, where a VCAT member will decide who can be part of the case, how the dispute should be managed and how much time it will take.
A compulsory conference, where the council and GHCMA will attempt to resolve the stalemate, is set for December 16, and a full tribunal hearing is pencilled in for March 6-8 next year.
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