For one Griffith man, having a bypass cut through his property is not an issue. In fact, John Kerrigan says he's been the "number one cheerleader" for Griffith's Southern Industrial Link, seeing the benefit for the town and wider community.
However after being "low-balled" by Griffith City Council who "continually acted in bad faith" over the course of almost four years, he now says a metaphorical gun is being pointed at his head to give up his land, when he was more than happy to cooperate.
Mr Kerrigan purchased a 59.5 hectare property on Walla Avenue on December 12 back in 2015.
Seeing in the contract there was a possibility of land acquisition in the future he did his "due diligence" and went to council. He claims he was told it would be many years - roughly 10 to 15 - into the future, time when Mr Kerrigan would be looking at retirement anyway.
The property was sold to him for $1 million under the hammer - an auction where council had no bidders. The next business day he was called in to council for a meeting.
I thought they must've accidentally left off a zero.John Kerrigan
"I get in there, and in around two days plans had just magically appeared for a project that wasn't meant to happen until way in the future," Mr Kerrigan said.
"They told me - saying they were telling me it was in my best interest - that the road was going to go through with a time-frame of about two to three years, so it'd be best for me if I didn't go ahead with anything that would inconvenience me."
While somewhat irritated, Mr Kerrigan said he was agreeable in working around the time-frame, and invested money he had planned to grow almonds with on the land into his earth moving business instead.
When Council's initial offer arrived, he thought the $41,000 figure was a typo.
"My initial reaction was I thought they must've accidentally left off a zero," Mr Kerrigan said.
What followed is almost four years worth of negotiations with council, lawyers and valuers, with a resolution just breaking over the horizon now in 2019, detailed in documents seen by The Area News.
Since reviewing their original valuation, council's next offer as of May 16 in 2018, is 5.87 hectares of land for $260,000 - six times their original offer. This is excluding disturbance cost compensation.
"This figure is where their starting point should have been - they have just gotten into the zone where they should have been talking to me from the outset," Mr Kerrigan said.
However in the same letter containing this final offer, council's lawyers go on to say they will take steps to take the land by force "unless and until and agreement is reached". The notice was issued on February 28, 2019 just as negotiations were coming to a head.
"They waited until the last leg to serve me with an Compulsory Land Acquisition - which means the path is now locked onto a trajectory," Mr Kerrigan said.
"It's like they've given me an offer thinking I'll take it, and when I didn't accept because it was laughable, now it's, oh this is what we will really give you. Now we are negotiating like we should have from the outset, but with a gun to my head."
Normally a compulsory land acquisition is only issued if the sale of the land cannot be finalised through negotiation, and issued after 90 days (and up to 120 days) from the issue of the proposed acquisition notice.
With regard to the questions specifically about Mr Kerrigan, council cannot comment on negotiations with private land owners for land acquisition to facilitate road works.Griffith City Council statement
"What gets me though, is that if they had come up to me in the first place and said, 'John we can only afford to pay you this much for the land' or actually made a serious offer then I would've been able to work with that and we could've been able to settle this way back then - at a much cheaper cost to the rate payers.
"I have come to the table every time and met their deadlines, and yet they have continually busted their own and held up the process."
When asked if he still would have bought the property had he known the deadline would be closer, he said it was a "very difficult question".
"I don't know what I would have done, however it would have certainly changed what I was prepared to bid."
The Area News approached Griffith City Council with a number of questions relating to Mr Kerrigan's land acquisition, and only the following response was given:
"With regard to the questions specifically about Mr Kerrigan, council cannot comment on negotiations with private land owners for land acquisition to facilitate road works."
When asked what the total budget specifically set a side for land acquisition, council said the information is "commercial in confidence and will not be divulged."
Council is commencing works on stage 6a of the Griffith Southern Industrial Link which is specifically sealing part of Bromley Road, the section before Mr Kerrigan's Walla Avenue property. They anticipate construction will be complete on this section of Bromley Road in August.
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