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Retrospective consent for a Veggie Boys outlet on the outskirts of Mosgiel should not be granted because it would set a precedent that would allow grocery stores to operate in rural areas, Dunedin City Council planners say.
The Veggie Boys store is on the site of Wal's Plant and Fun Land in Bush Rd.
Business activity on the site has grown from a nursery selling plants grown on-site that added sales of garden supplies and some plants and produce grown off-site, to a mini-golf and miniature train operation and a cafe, permitted through a series of six resource consents issued since 2007.
Veggie Boys consultant planner Don Anderson said the company took out a lease with the landowner, Daisy Link Garden Centres Ltd, early last year, understanding it was able to sell what it wanted to under existing consents.
But city council planners said otherwise, and after the issues came to light during regular council monitoring of the site last September, it was agreed Veggie Boys would lodge its own consent application. Senior city planner Campbell Thomson said the main issue was about the source of the produce being sold at the store.
The existing consents for the site allowed some produce sourced off-site to be sold, but not to the extent Veggie Boys was doing, he said.
If the council granted the new consent, Veggie Boys would be able to sell vegetable produce without limitation as to its source, along with other products, including meat, confectionery, canned food, food condiments, milk, bread, honey and cheese.
The site is zoned rural, where the commercial sale of goods is generally restricted to that produced on-site.
In a report to the council's hearings committee, which will hold a public hearing on the application on Wednesday, council planner Jeremy Grey said although the effects of the business were only minor given what was taking place at the site, Veggie Boys was ''effectively a grocery shop'', with most of its goods sourced off-site, such as would usually be found in a commercial area.
To grant its operation in a rural zone would potentially detract from the character of the zone and set a precedent.
''There is a high likelihood that materially indistinguishable and equally clashing further applications will follow, and, therefore, the integrity of the District Plan will be imperilled if consent is granted.''
He recommended the committee decline the application.
Of 145 submissions received on the application, only three are opposed to the proposal to allow the store to operate in a rural area.