McKay, motorsport trust face off again

In the latest round of an ongoing conflict, Cromwell man Alan McKay has opposed an application by the Cromwell Motorsport Park Trust to change or cancel conditions of a land use consent.

His opposition was similar to that in other Central Otago District Council and Central Otago District Licensing Committee hearings regarding the Highlands Motorsport Park and related facilities near Cromwell, with Mr McKay claiming the council had bias when dealing with the park due to financial interest.

Last week's hearing was before a reduced panel of chairman John Lane and Councillor Martin McPherson, as Terry Emmitt, of Bannockburn, and Deputy Mayor Neil Gillespie, of Cromwell, stood down due to perceived conflict of interest.

Mr Lane said he believed those left on the panel were ''removed enough to hold this hearing without bias''.

While Mr McKay still claimed the remaining panellists were deemed biased by the law, BTW South planning manager Anita Dawe, representing the motorsport park trust, said the application related to a piece of land the council had no interest in.

The trust had made an application to amend conditions of a resource consent to allow an auditorium at The Nose to ''show footage'', rather than to ''show footage of the local area and its products only''.

The Nose, formerly The Big Picture, is a restaurant that is part of the Highlands venue, located on the corner of Sandflat Rd and State Highway 6. Ms Dawe said while it would broaden the scope of entertainment, it would not result in the auditorium being used as a general cinema.

Other proposed condition changes would allow extended opening hours and enable amplified music at the venue. Council planning consultant David Whitney recommended the relating conditions be amended, supporting the application for land use consent change by the motorsport park trust.

At the hearing, Mr McKay, who lived about 120m from The Nose, said the manner in which the changes to conditions were proposed was ''a bit of a Trojan horse''. What he was hearing was a ''trick'' to allow the showing of ''any old movie''.

He opposed any extended hours of operation or amplified music.

Ms Dawe said after the applicant considered the submissions, changes to the application were made. Instead of extending opening hours until midnight, the venue would be open to the public for dining and other uses from 9am-10.30pm, with all persons off the premises by 11pm, seven days per week.

It also stated the venue should be permitted to open for private functions during the hours of 9am and midnight, seven nights per week, on no more than 20 occasions in any calendar year. This was promoted as a compromise.

Mr McKay opposed the application for the private functions as well, saying the terrace on which both The Nose and his property were located needed to be protected because they were rural.

Ms Dawe said the Resource Management Act was ''not about protecting status quo'', but managing resources in a sustainable manner.

The hearings panel reserved its decision.


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