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Sawmill's rezone hopes spark anger

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014

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@devlincolleKennington residents are angry a sawmilling company wants to rezone more of the township's land to industrial.

A group of residents, already upset at the amount of noise the nearby Niagara sawmill generates, raised concerns at a public meeting this week that Niagara Properties had lodged a submission to the Invercargill City Council to rezone part of rural Kennington, near Invercargill.

The submission says, among other things, that rezoning would attract more business and create jobs. It highlights the close proximity of the area to a well-established industrial area and its good transportation routes.

The submission says no other district plan in New Zealand has six rurally zoned allotments used for residential purposes, surrounded on all sides by an established industrial zone.

Council environmental planning services director Pamela Gare said rezoning to industrial would be a significant change for the area.

"It changes what land users can do on a property and what happens on the property next door."

For example a factory could be built next to a house, or some of the homes could be used for industrial purposes, she said.

Council legal representative Russell Ibbotson told residents at the meeting the company had the right to ask but submissions would be sought, and he urged residents to get involved.

A zone change would mean changing the district plan, which could not be done easily, he said.

"I don't think it will happen but my advice is let your voices be heard."

Resident Shanan de Granham said residents were disgusted that the council had allowed the submission and never informed them.

Niagara group property manager David Blue, speaking after the meeting, said the company's submission to change zoning would not be a quick fix and would take time.

Meanwhile, the council's consultation with Niagara to create a noise management plan for its sawmill at Kennington was expected to be ready by mid-June, but many residents believed that was too far away. They asked what would happen if the sawmill did not comply with the plan.

Council deputy mayor Darren Ludlow said if the sawmill failed to comply it would be served with Environment Court papers.

Mr de Granham said residents wanted the plant to shut down at certain times during the night and on a Sunday.

Mr Blue said the company was waiting for the results of acoustic engineers' reports before reporting back to the council. It was trying to reduce noise by moving a car park and changing routes and the loading of trucks.

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"We are not running away from this.

"We want to work with council and the community to get through this," he said.

- The Southland Times

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