Family slams Victorian Government plan to acquire property for park

A Melbourne family claim they are facing financial ruin after being doubly betrayed by the Victorian Government.

Margaret and Walter Fioritti bought their sprawling, 30-acre property in Deanside in Melbourne’s west in the late 1980s, and went on to raise their four children in the idyllic area.

But they are now facing a nightmare scenario, with the state government forging ahead with plans to seize the land in order to create the 500-acre Kororoit Creek Regional Park through a compulsory acquisition process.

The family told A Current Affair that based on the most recent maps available, they believe that 85 per cent of their property could be acquired, along with some neighbouring properties.

They also claim the government has failed to communicate its plans with them, leaving them in the lurch.

“You think you live in Australia and it’s a really fair country,” devastated daughter Bianca Fioritti, 31, told ACA.

“This can literally happen to everyone. The government can come in and take your land and there’s nothing that you can do about it.”

Her mother Margaret described the ongoing situation as “very stressful”.

“It’s affected our mental health and our physical health,” she said.

“It’s not just us, but all the residents in this area, because we don’t know what’s going on.

“No one’s even come here. No one’s ever come to see us or any of the residents. We’ve had no communication whatsoever.”

Meanwhile, in a second devastating blow, the Fiorittis claim they won’t even be compensated fairly for the staggering loss of their property as a result of a “sneaky” government move made 10 years ago without their knowledge.

According to Bianca Fioritti, a decade ago the government put a conservation overlay on the property without informing the owners of the significant change.

It means the property has been rezoned, and therefore devalued, as the overlay places a great deal of restrictions on what is able to be done on the property, sending its market value plummeting as it’s much less attractive to developers.

“It’s been a very sneaky rezoning of the property,” Bianca Fioritti said.

“We’ve spoken to lawyers who specialise in compulsory acquisition and they’ve said we’re not going to get anything because of the rezoning.”

The government claims the park will be an “important habitat for the growling grass frog”, but the Fiorittis and neighbour Marcel Galea dismissed that claim as “lies”, insisting they had never seen a frog in the area in the decades they have lived there.

A Victorian Government spokesperson told Channel 9 in a statement that Kororoit Creek Regional Park will “provide much-needed green space for growing communities and protect endangered plants and animals”.

“The boundaries were established in consultation with stakeholders and the community,” the statement reads.

“Properties with houses within the park boundary are currently only being purchased if the owners wish to sell. The land acquisition process for properties without houses is well progressed to create the new park.

“Those who wish to sell will be compensated fairly based on an independent valuation that considers the highest and best use of the land, as though the park’s Public Acquisition Overlay was not present.”

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