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Widespread zoning changes around Oamaru could be in place by early next year, following the end of a hearings process that overcame objections from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) questioning the effect they could have on traffic flow in the town's North End.
A hearings commissioner had been appointed to hear submissions in June, after the Waitaki District Council notified its business zone plan change in February, and commissioner Dean Chrystal said an amended plan change had now been approved.
Under the change, the existing business zone west of the train tracks would be extended eastwards to include Beach Rd and southwards past Caledonian Rd, while a section of Arundel St, on the west side of Thames Highway, would be rezoned for retail businesses.
However, a submission from the NZTA said changes in zoning from rural general to business 3 on the eastern side of the main south railway line in the North End of Oamaru would result in traffic volumes that would ''adversely impact on the safety, efficient and functionality'' of State Highway 1.
As a result, the submission said the intersection with Foyle St and Caledonian Rd, in particular, could require state highway improvements and intersection upgrades over and above what the existing plan provided for.
Mr Chrystal said the adoption of a rule that would make an activity that generated more than 250 vehicle trips a day, or created more than 25 parking spaces, a discretionary activity would ensure that the impact of traffic on the roading network would be assessed.
A further submission from the NZTA, which requested that a structure plan be developed for the North End business park area along with a further provision to prevent business activity from gaining direct access to SH1 ''along the state highway frontage of the proposed zone'', was accepted ''in part'', but Mr Chrystal said the plan change had ensured that provision could be made in future for a central road through the area and direct access would be restricted.
Speaking at yesterday's council meeting, Waitaki Deputy Mayor Cr Hugh Perkins said there had been ''a lot of concern'' expressed about motorists' ability to access SH1 from the North End of Oamaru.
''It just seems to me we are being obliged to tailor our plan when NZTA have no intention of doing anything about that intersection.''
However, council planning manager David Campbell said the issues around the North End were ''well known'' to the NZTA, and the public notification of the hearing decisions would take place next week.
There would be a 30-day time-frame in which appeals could be lodged, but if none were forthcoming, the plan change would become operative in early 2014.