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Both sceptics and supporters flocked to a public meeting yesterday to see plans for a multimillion-dollar floating luxury hotel proposed for Oamaru Harbour.
About 80 people filled the Lindis Room at the Brydone Hotel at 3.30pm to hear from Oamaru Licensing Trust general manager Cathy Maaka and Stufkens & Chambers architect Steven Chambers about the plans of an as yet unnamed New Zealand developer to moor a 40m by 9m, 25-room, three-level, four-and-a-half-star floating hotel near Waterfront Rd.
A question and answer period followed a presentation by Mr Chambers and questions ranged from which authority would collect rates from a non-land-based development, to how the trust would keep Oamaru's abundant birdlife from nesting upon it.
Where car parking was proposed, whether alternate locations in the harbour setting had been considered and why it had not been proposed to include a bar and restaurant were among other questions raised.
Mr Chambers said the conceptual designs he was floating were "new territory" for him as an architect and for New Zealand.
The concept had been discussed with other districts, but the concept for Oamaru was "a little bit more progressed than other locations".
"The specific proposal as shown here has not been presented to other locations around New Zealand."
The proposed location's proximity to shore would require some dredging to allow the hotel to float and there was work to do to finalise how the land was accessed.
"I think this location here is one that allows the vessel to not be the dominant element within the harbour. It's on the edge by the cliff edge there, it's close to the existing structures, so in terms of the context of the scale, it's probably the best location for it," Mr Chambers said.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, who was at the meeting, responded to a question about whether a floating hotel would undermine the heritage value of the Heritage NZ-listed port.
"We know we are in with a really good chance for national landmark status for New Zealand and that is a gateway for World Heritage status. We've got something special here - we don't want to ruin that," he said. "It's something that we would be looking at if an application came to us as a council ..."
Mrs Maaka said the developer was not including a restaurant in the proposal to avoid competing with Oamaru's already high number of eateries per capita.
Also, keeping the costs of the project low would mean the trust's lease to operate the facility would also remain low, she said. However, the trust had yet to commit to the project.
During the public meeting, nobody asked who the developer was, but after the meeting Mrs Maaka said she would respect his wishes to remain anonymous at this stage.