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Central Otago District Council chief executive Sanchia Jacobs confirmed yesterday the decision about Plan Change 13 — a private plan change for rezoning requested by River Terrace Developments Ltd to build a 840-house residential development on the outskirts of Cromwell — had been received by the council more than two weeks ago but was being withheld by it.
This was because there were ‘‘outstanding administrative matters’’ to be resolved, Ms Jacobs said.
Ms Jacobs said the matters related to recovering costs from the applicant and under the Resource Management Act the council was permitted to withhold its decision.
Ms Jacobs said only she and senior planning staff knew what the decision was, and it had not been released to the applicant, submitters, other staff or elected members. However, elected members had been advised of the delays, the council was working with the applicant and submitters would be updated today.
When approached for comment, Winton chief executive Chris Meehan (River Terrace is wholly owned by Winton) said: ‘‘River Terrace Developments Ltd is also eager to learn the decision from the independent commissioners. In response to your question about costs being paid, invoices from Central Otago District Council to River Terrace Developments Ltd total $442,669.10. Given the quantum, River Terrace Developments Ltd has gone back to the council to fully understand how these costs have been incurred and await CODC’s response.’’
Mr Meehan added that River Terrace had ‘‘paid $180,035.25 to date. The balance is deposited into a Bell Gully solicitors trust account pending satisfactory resolution of the CODC invoices’’.
Ms Jacobs said she hoped matters would be resolved and the decision released within a week.
The hearing for the plan change was held before independent commissioners in Cromwell in June and the application from River Terrace attracted 417 submissions, 410 of which opposed it.
The opposing submissions included submissions from the council itself — on the basis the plan change would pre-empt the Cromwell master plan process — and Highlands Motorsport Park.
The development proposed by River Terrace is for 49.8ha on the corner of State Highway 6 and Sandflat Rd, opposite Highlands.
Highlands chief operating officer Josie Spillane said she respected the process surrounding the plan change and knew there would be ‘‘valid’’ reasons for withholding the decision, but the delay was ‘‘frustrating’’.
Not only had Highlands invested considerable time and money into the hearing process, ‘‘the community has as well’’, Ms Spillane said.
‘‘We’ve all got things that we need to get on with and move on with and we’re in a state of limbo at the moment if our very livelihoods at Highlands, orchards and [Cromwell] speedway are in jeopardy because 3000 people are moving in next door.’’
The council’s planning consultant, David Whitney, has recommended the application from River Terrace be declined.