Boarding kennel permit challenged

A PROPOSED extension to a Willung South puppy farm has been put on hold, after neighbouring residents appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal.

Three neighbours to the Billabong Creek farm have objected to Wellington Shire’s decision to grant a planning permit to the dog breeder, over concerns it will disrupt the amenity and ambience of their peaceful location.

Under the planning permit, the farm would be allowed to house an additional 20 boarding dogs on top of the 50 breeding dogs it already holds.

In a statement, Wellington Shire Council manager development, John Websdale confirmed the proposal had received a lot of objection from its early days. 

“Notice of the application was distributed to surrounding owners and occupiers and a number of objections were received,” he said. 

“These concerns were considered in council’s assessment of the application and a Notice of Decision to grant a permit was issued. The objectors have requested a review of council’s decision at VCAT.” 

Billabong Creek farm owner Larry Seear defended the decision to increase their animal numbers, saying that with the Victorian government planning to reduce the maximum amount of dogs on a property to 10 in the coming years, it was necessary to maximise profits where possible.

“It’s only a 20 dog boarding (extension), it’s an enhancement to the business that we do here and we’ve had a lot of clients request it,” Mr Seear said.

“We put in an application for a 30 dog boarding facility, and the council came out here and assessed it early and they suggested a 20 dog increase. A lot of people require these sort of (dog boarding) facilities these days.”

Among the three objectors is Mr Seears next-door neighbour, Stuart White. He said that when Billabong Creek farm first sought a council planning permit when it began operating in 2008, no neighbours received any paperwork from Wellington Shire.

“They rang every neighbour and said over the phone, ‘Billabong Creek have applied for a planning permit, have you got any objections?’ Mr White said.

“We were deprived of our rights to have a good think and have a look at the paperwork, so they granted the permit.

“This is the straw that broke the camels back, we’ve decided to take it to VCAT.”

Tensions between Billabong Creek and neighbours have been high for years, with Mr White saying while they had been better informed this time around, none of the residents surrounding the farm were thrilled with the council’s decision.

“Every neighbour was given opportunity to object and every neighbour did object, with the common theme being noise,” he said.

“That’s the main thing that affects us, it varies from an hour or two a day to all day of just incessant dog barking. It’s fairly horrendous.”

However despite the objections, Billabong Creek have vowed to fight for their livelihood. 

“We’ll fight the VCAT appeal, we’ll got to VCAT and go through the hoops, that’s all I can do I guess,” Mr Seears said.