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A commissioner hearing regarding altering zoning to allow for the major lifestyle subdivision in Ripponvale Rd began yesterday.
The hearing relates to the proposed plan change 14 to allow NZ Cherry Corp (Leyser) Limited Partnership to develop the up to 160-lot subdivision on 142ha of land, alongside a multimillion-dollar 29ha cherry orchard expansion.
In a departure from usual proceedings, the hearing before independent commissioner Gary Rae and Central Otago District Council hearings panel chairman Neil Gillespie is taking place online and is expected to run until Friday.
On the first day of the hearing yesterday, counsel for NZ Cherry Corp Sarah Eveleigh said the framework of the proposal for the requested change to the Central Otago district plan had been amended to address concerns of submitters.
"It represents a comprehensively considered approach to the environment and the needs of Cromwell and surrounds," she said.
While the amendments did not alter the number of proposed lots, density had been reduced, the minimum lot size had been increased from 2000sqm to 4000sqm and parameters around noise insulation had been altered, Ms Eveleigh said.
One of the key issues was classification, she said.
Whether they were classed as large-lot residential or rural lifestyle residential was, she believed, addressed by the increase in size, making lots 4000sqm to 3ha, meaning the lots could fall into the latter category, she said.
As well as the 142ha tipped for residential development and the 29ha for the proposed cherry orchard, the plan also provides for 73ha of protected visible high country, which the community could access.
While the amendments made had been to address submitters’ concerns, 75% of submissions made were in support, Ms Eveleigh said.
Submissions to the hearing in the coming days include the impact of loss of productive land, the impact of orchard-related noise on future homeowners and potential traffic flow effects on State Highway 6.
Nine people will be giving expert evidence on behalf of the applicant. A further nine submitters are expected to speak against the proposal.
The hearing continues today.