Morawa Shire takes block of land that owner couldn’t give away

Elise Van AkenMidwest Times
Shire of Morawa acting chief executive Gavin Treasure.
Camera IconShire of Morawa acting chief executive Gavin Treasure. Credit: Mogens Johansen/WA News

A WA property developer has given his block of land in a Mid West town to the local Shire, saying there was “no chance” he could get anyone to live there.

Perth metropolitan-based Famlonga Building Contractors director Jeff Famlonga wrote to the Shire of Morawa on February 1, after discussions with its chief executive Scott Wildgoose, offering to donate the parcel of vacant land at 3 Solomon Terrace.

At its regular council meeting on March 18, the Shire council voted unanimously to accept the gift, provided nothing affected the property’s use for residential purposes; it was cleared of all outstanding debts and rates; and the owner paid 50 per cent of all fees and charges to transfer ownership.

Mr Famlonga told the Midwest Times his company had bought the land in 2011 on behalf of an undisclosed client who wanted to construct three units for staff accommodation who did not go through with the development.

He said the cost of connecting the land to the electricity supply and a lack of potential residents made the venture unviable.

“We were going to develop anyway ... but Western Power wanted $140,000 ... it should have only been $20,000, but you can’t argue with Western Power,” he said.

There’s nothing in the town. It’s a place where people can’t do anything — there’s no employment.

He said the company had already spent $35,000 to buy the property and more than $20,000 to submit various planning applications.

“It’s a big block, so if (the Shire) ever decide to do something it would be ideal for housing,” he said.

“If there was half a chance someone wanted it developed we would, but now there’s not a chance.”

Shire of Morawa acting chief executive Gavin Treasure did not answer questions regarding Mr Famalonga’s claims.

In her report to the council, Shire executive assistant Rondah Toms wrote it would be unlikely the Shire of Morawa would be able to dispose of the property in the near future in a way that would allow it to recoup the expenditure required to acquire this property, nor the loss of annual Shire rates, given the current property market.

But she said the acquisition of the vacant land, adjacent to a Shire-owned block at 4 Club Road, could be beneficial to have at Shire disposal, with there being a possibility to use this property in plans to increase the population by initiating projects to provide additional residential housing or attracting potential home builders.

“...whilst the Shire does not want to set a precedent of acquiring properties that are failing to sell, the positioning of this lot next to Shire land would make this a prudent acquisition for a minimal upfront cost of approximately $500,” she wrote.

The Shire’s share of the costs to obtain the land came to $506.65.

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