Residents of a rural area near Millthorpe are angry a transitional home for youth-at-risk will be established without any need for community consultation or council approval.
Sydney-based Marist180 purchased the property via a real estate agent from Member for Orange Phil Donato on January 31.
The house will provide residential youth care for four to six vulnerable children aged 12-18 for 13 weeks at a time.
Marist180 told Blayney Shire Council under state government planning policy it does not need planning consent for the home if it has less than 10 bedrooms.
It has just opened another home at Clifton Grove and has plans for four more for different levels of youth needs around Orange.
Property owners near the Millthorpe site said they were concerned Mr Donato had not told them he was selling his five-bedroom, two hectares property to Marist180.
I don't know what the children are going to do there. Why would you put them there when there is nothing for them to do.Amanda Stonestreet, nearby property owner
Mr Donato said he did nothing wrong.
"Selling your property is a confidential arrangement between the parties. There is no obligation to tell adjoining owners, or indeed anyone else, who you are selling your property to."
Mr Donato said the buyer had asked for the sale to be kept confidential.
Nearby resident Amanda Stonestreet said locals were concerned about the sale.
"No one knew. He's [Mr Donato] kept it very quiet," she said.
Mrs Stonestreet said she was worried it would create a crime risk to the area.
"We are concerned about law and order. We don't have 24-hour police here," she said.
"I don't know what the children are going to do there. Why would you put them there when there is nothing for them to do?"
Farmer Ian McRae said he was concerned about the "secrecy" of the sale.
"We didn't know this was going to happen. One of my biggest concerns is we don't know enough about it," he said.
"I find it very concerning that the whole thing has been kept on the quiet.
I'm a farmer, I've got enough worries about a lack of rain and managing through the drought without what may arise from all of this.Ian McRae, nearby property owner
"I'm a farmer, I've got enough worries about a lack of rain and managing through the drought without what may arise from all of this.
"I understand it will be a refuge of some sort for young people who have been in difficult circumstances. I don't see it appropriate to be located here. Young people out here on a hobby farm will be that bored.
"There are four neighbours within 500 metres of the property."
If things go to plan it is scheduled to open soon.
Other neighbours contacted by the Central Western Daily who did not want to be named said they were concerned there was no community consultation or the need for council approval.
"We can't do anything about it," one resident said.
Blayney Shire Council director of planning and environmental services Mark Dicker said under the planning laws Marist180 would not need council planning approval.
"If the proposal meets the specified criteria of the State Environmental Planning Policy council has no power to intervene as SEPPs are a statewide legislation which override Local Environmental Planning. Council has sought further information from Marist180 regarding the proposal," he said.
Generally the children spend most of their time at the home where they feel safer and more comfortable.Peter Monaghan, Marist180 CEO
Marist180 CEO Peter Monaghan said its Orange region facilities would cater for 30 young people a year and employ 80 people.
He said there would be 24-hour supervision with two youth workers on duty, a house manager onsite in business hours and various health professionals would visit during the day.
"Generally the children spend most of their time at the home where they feel safer and more comfortable, and where they participate in therapy and activities identified in individual care plans."
Mr Monaghan said the children would not attend local schools and "generally the children are accompanied by staff when leaving the property". He said security cameras, screens and windows would be installed.
He said they would contact the nearest neighbours to explain the home's operation.
"We want to create an environment around this facility that is embracing and welcoming. The broader community needs to be part of that process."
He said its Clifton Grove home had operated for a month without issues.
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