Building homes nearby unwise, orchardist tells council

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Putting about 140 homes in the vicinity of cherry orchards ‘‘was not a good fit’’ and would cause problems, a submitter opposed to plan change 14 told a remotely held Central Otago District Council hearing yesterday.

Alan McKay, representing the McKay Family Trust, said he was opposed to plan change 14 which, if granted, would allow NZ Cherry Corp (Leyser) Limited Partnership to go ahead with a residential lot subdivision and a 29ha, multimillion-dollar orchard expansion.

Speaking via video link, Mr McKay told independent commissioner panel chairman Neil Gillespie and independent commissioner Gary Rae orchard-related noise and changes to the surrounding rural landscape were his two main objections.

Mr McKay said he lived on a 20ha block and grew cherries but had gone to a ‘‘great deal of trouble to reduce the noise’’ by using electric motors instead of diesel, covering the trees, having a 100m buffer and a well-insulated house.

However, he said noise from wind machines and frost fans on neighbouring orchards often kept him awake at night.

The people living in the residential development would complain bitterly, and ‘‘we would gradually see the erosion of our rights to operate our orchards’’, he said.

Former Otago regional councillor Gerry Eckhoff told the hearing he had lived beside an orchard for seven years that used birds scarers and frost fans.

‘‘Try leaving a motor mower at full throttle outside your bedroom window at night and that will give you an indication of the noise.’’

He said everyone had a right to quiet enjoyment of their property and that was a fundamental principle he did not believe could be compromised.

Central Otago viticulturalist and Grape Vision Ltd owner James Dicey submitted written evidence as an expert and a resident, but yesterday he also gave evidence on behalf of Residents for Responsible Development Cromwell.

He said, from a viticultural perspective, the site in question was productive land.

Based on his desktop research, there was enough water for 87ha to be planted successfully with cherries and 105ha of land would be suitable for viticulture.

He urged the commissioners to make a physical visit to get a sense of the value and site analysis of the land.

The hearing is set to continue until Friday.

The commissioners indicated they intended to make a two-day site visit next month.

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