Submissions sought on land transfer

The Local Government Commission is calling for submissions on a proposal to transfer 40,000ha from the Clutha District Council to the Dunedin City Council.

The proposal stems from a petition signed last year by 14 Clutha landowners - mostly farmers - in the Deep Stream, Lee Stream and Waipori catchments. They argued that a boundary change would recognise the fact that their district was more orientated towards Dunedin than Balclutha.

Lake Mahinerangi farmer Robert Reid led the petition. ‘‘Everybody goes to Dunedin for everything really, so it's an obvious thing to happen.''

Both councils have agreed to put the issue in the hands of the commission which is seeking submissions on whether or not it should go ahead or be modified.

The land is used mostly for sheep farming but it also includes Lake Mahinerangi, the Waipori township and Trust-Power's proposed 100-turbine wind farm. Trust Power Community relations manager Graeme Purches said the company had no problem with the boundary change.

‘‘Not at all. It makes absolutely no difference.''

A Dunedin council subcommittee, chaired by Mayor Peter Chin, has been set up to produce a submission on the change but has not yet met and the Clutha council has also not debated the issue.

A Dunedin source, who did not want to be named, wondered if the landowners involved realised that the Clutha district plan was ‘‘far more friendly'' towards farming operations than the city plan.

Setting up a home-kill abattoir, for example, was a permitted activity in Clutha but was a non-complying activity in Dunedin and there was a similar situation with some farmtourism type activities.

Dunedin deputy mayor Syd Brown - whose ward the land would become part of - said he had no particular view.

‘‘Common sense would say it is probably in our boundary when you look at the natural topography of the hill line.''

Submissions close on May 29 and are then sent to the electors seeking the change. They can withdraw the proposal at that point. The commission can then either proceed or issue a draft reorganisation scheme.

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