East side 'tourist facility' will be nothing to worry about, developer tells neighbours

Residents have reservations about a wellness retreat Dr Zachariasz Baran hopes to build on Lookout Drive, Murray Bridge East.

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Deb Maplestowe, Marg Goodwin, Jerry Wilson, Norm Goodwin, Goran Yakas, Trevor and Gaye Honeychurch and Dayle Waltrovitz worry about the impact a planned development might have on their neighbourhood. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

East side residents worry that a planned wellness retreat on Lookout Drive could spoil their peaceful neighbourhood.

An Adelaide-based doctor is behind the proposed development on a six-hectare clifftop property which overlooks the River Murray and the Riverglades wetland.

According to plans lodged with the Murray Bridge council, it would feature two houses, two “shack-like” cabins and an amenities block.

The plans described it as “a self-contained facility where tourists can visit, take in the natural features of the land and enjoy the beauty and calm of the locale”.

Nearby residents worried that it would set a precedent for the semi-rural area, where house blocks are spacious, peace and quiet is plentiful and prices are at a premium.

They told Murray Bridge News they did not want visitors partying late at night, bright lights shining on their backyards or noisy river craft speeding around during the day.

Dayle Waltrovitz said she didn’t want “substandard” buildings put up or “strangers” intruding on the area.

“We paid double the (house) price of anyone else so we could have the view and the lifestyle,” she said.

“Country living is all about enjoyment and relaxation.

“If we’ve got partying next door at one o’clock in the morning, I don’t call that a country lifestyle.”

Goran Yakas said residents appreciated the hard line the council had taken on banning subdivisions in the area, even if it had been to their detriment at times.

After years of consistency, it would be “really inconsistent” if an accommodation facility were approved nearby, he said.

There was a public consultation period for the plans, but many residents never knew about it – it started on December 24 and ended on January 15.

Still, those who made objections hoped to take their case to the council assessment panel at a future meeting.

A map of the proposed development, with buildings clustered in an eastern corner. At the top of the map is the River Murray; surrounding houses are on either side. Image: Orangetree Design Studio.

‘Tourism facility’ label is misleading, proponent says

Proponent Dr Zachariasz Baran, a specialist in alternative medicine with more than 35 years’ experience, said neighbours had nothing to worry about.

“The purpose of the facility is a retreat for my patients,” he said.

“There will be two houses and two cabins where people can go away for a weekend or a week, play table tennis, read a book or have a seminar.

“It’s designed to be quiet and unobtrusive.

“My patients don’t want to stay at a caravan park or a motel, and they’re health conscious so alcohol and drugs won’t be involved.”

He said the buildings proposed would be built by Rivergum Homes, and comparable in quality to others in the neighbourhood.

Visitors would pick up keys to the property at Dr Baran’s clinic in Adelaide.

Dr Baran believed the council’s designation of the development as a “tourist facility” was what had set off alarm bells.

“If people are objecting, it’s important they be informed about what they’re objecting to,” he said.

The development application will be considered at a future meeting of the Murray Bridge council assessment panel.