Many concerns about proposed subdivision

There are fears Waitati's village ambience will be damaged - and historic Maori and European artefacts lost forever - if a proposed subdivision is allowed to proceed.

Invermark Investments Ltd has applied to the Dunedin City Council for consent to subdivide 17ha of rural land, including some on the edge of Blueskin Bay, to create four new rural-residential properties.

Three of the new sites would have new homes built on them, while the fourth would surround an existing home, a report by council planner Lianne Darby said.

The proposal has attracted 33 submissions, including 29 opposed - almost all of them from Waitati residents worried about the development.

Ms Darby's report has also recommended consent be declined, in part because the development would ''fragment'' the area's rural land and threaten the area's bird habitat and coastal views.

The site was also at risk of flooding, sea-level rise and tsunamis, because it was on low-lying coastal land, making inundation ''a real and ongoing risk'', she said.

Submitters arguing against the proposal also warned of flooding, tsunamis, sea-level rise and other natural hazards threatening the site, and worried about the impact on bird life and the Blueskin Bay ecosystem.

Elizabeth and Dan Mornin, of Waitati, said the quiet, undisturbed area of land was the ''essence'' of the quality of life sought in Waitati.

Losing it to developers would be a blow to the lifestyle enjoyed by the wider community and would set a ''frightening precedent'', they argued.

''To ruin it in piecemeal fashion, unnecessarily, is short-sighted and would degrade [the] character of the area of Blueskin Bay.''

Amanda Morrison, of Waitati, said the area was a feeding area for up to 1000 oystercatchers, as well as pukeko and herons, while Michaline Currie, of Waitati, worried wastewater would find its way into the bay, affecting the area's wildlife and seafood.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust also warned there was a ''high probability'' archeological material dating back to the earliest occupiers of the land was buried in the area and could be damaged if accidentally uncovered during development.

The area had been heavily occupied by Maori from the 13th century, while European settlers arrived in Waitati during the 1860s.

KiwiRail has also submitted against the subdivision, which would be split by the north-south railway line, because of concerns one of the planned homes would be too close to its noisy activities.

The company worried that would lead to complaints from the eventual occupier that threatened to curtail use of the line, and suggested a covenant to protect it from any noise complaints.

The Otago Regional Council was also opposed, pointing out a flood channel running through the site could be used by the Waitati River.

Ms Darby, in her report, agreed that was a risk, saying evidence from consultants was that flooding could ''potentially'' occur on the site every 10 to 16 years.

A report commissioned following the major storm that brought flooding to Dunedin and parts of coastal Otago in April 2006 had identified the site of the proposed subdivision as potentially at risk, she said.

It warned any development ''should be considered carefully'' before any consents were granted.

Companies Office records listed Mark and Patricia Thom, of Mosgiel, as Invermark's directors and shareholders, but Mrs Thom declined to comment when contacted. Their consent application will be considered by the council's hearings committee on Thursday.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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