You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
The spectre of the Aramoana aluminium smelter, a widely unpopular project nearby that was defeated in the early 1980s, arose as residents argued the project could radically change the nature of the area.
The developers, Lex Anderson and Hilda Craighead, have applied for resource consent for a three-lot residential development at Te Ngaru, about 3km on the Dunedin side of Aramoana.
But late confirmation the development would be three, not five residences, as many opponents first thought, appeared to placate opponents somewhat.
A Dunedin City Council consent hearings committee heard conflicting evidence recently on the risks to the project of rockfall, from what was either "a cliff face" behind the proposed development, according to opponents, or "steep land", according to proponents.
And the land itself was either a water-logged area fed by winter streams, or a dry sandy space suitable for development, depending on which side speakers were on.
The application received 11 submissions, eight opposing, two neutral and one in support.
The committee chairman was Cr Colin Weatherall, with members Cr Jinty MacTavish, Cr Lee Vandervis, and Trevor Johnson, of the Chalmers Community board.
Council planner Howard Alchin recommended the proposal be declined.
His report noted the site contained a "significant cliff formation" was located in a sensitive habitat in the north-coast coastal landscape conservation area; was in a rural zone; and presented a challenge in terms of providing services.
Senior planner John Sule said there was not just one issue being dealt with, and the application was "pretty complex".
The applicants' consultant, Allan Cubitt, disagreed.
He said there had been confusion about the application, as it was understood by some to be a four- or five-lot development, but was only a three-lot development.
Geologist Mike Robins said land at the site was "not exactly a cliff. It's steep land".
There was no evidence of rockfall, or of landslip.
CPG marine and coastal engineer Maurice Davis, a former harbour board employee with significant experience in the Aramoana area, said there was no recorded event where storm surge had an effect in the harbour, and the site was tucked away behind a headland.
The effects of climate change on the shore at Te Ngaru would be minor, the only issue being sea-level rise, but he could find no basis for declining the application because of the issue.
The Otago Regional Council opposed the development because of the possibility of rockfall, and collapse of the cliff face during an earthquake.
Melva Davidson spoke for residents of four homes in front of the development, and said concerns had largely been allayed by the confirmation lot four would not go ahead.
She was concerned about waste water from three building sites, which may increase flooding recently experienced.
Resident Claire Carey told the committee the application was for an activity not allowed in the zone, and the committee should listen to the views of its own experts when they made rulings on zones.
The meeting closed late in the afternoon, after Mr Alchin softened his stance somewhat, and said he may accept one house on the site.
The committee began deliberations after the meeting closed, with a decision due soon.