District plan hearings start

16:00, Mar 27 2014

Submitters on the Southland District Council's proposed district plan have the chance to make their voices heard at hearings beginning next week.

The plan has not been reviewed since 2001. The proposed changes could have an impact on all land use activities allowed in the district.

Of the 289 submissions received, more than 100 submitters have chosen to speak to the resource management committee, with the first two hearings to be held in Te Anau on Monday and Tuesday.

Most submissions to be heard in Te Anau focus on land zoning changes, proposed restrictions on clearing native scrub, and a perceived lack of consultation.

Te Anau farmers Murray and Bev Hagen, who are among the submitters expected to speak at the Te Anau hearings, say in their submission they are opposed to the proposed visual amenities landscapes policies, which places restrictions on landowners building on their properties.

"[The] restraints are an injustice on individual landowners' rights. This council has not had the decency to consult with individual landowners on this issue."

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The Hagens are also against proposed indigenous vegetation clearance and biodiversity policies, saying there are far too many restrictions and costs for landowners clearing scrub to increase their farm production.

"The only reason for this added burden on farming is to keep council in administrative jobs . . . council seem to be cutting off the hands that feed them," their submission says.

Some submitters are concerned that rezoning of land for the proposed sewage scheme was intended to avoid the democratic process.

In her submission, Glenda Bell accuses the council of attempting to "pervert the course of justice" by designating the land as a wastewater treatment area.

"What kind of democracy does the council think we live in when it has the temerity to pervert the course of justice by prewriting rules to serve its own agenda and to thwart the public?" her submission says.

The Manapouri Community Development Area subcommittee and Te Anau Community Board submitted that the council had not consulted the public enough, and that the proposed plan was difficult to read.

In its submission, the Manapouri Community Development Area subcommittee says it was disappointed with the way the council had conducted the review of the plan.

"While it may have been perfectly legal in the way it has been presented and available on the internet, there are those who feel it was morally wrong not to reasonably notify people of meetings, and of the proposed change in land designation."

"It is perceived as being change by stealth."

The proposed district plan submissions hearings before the resource management committee are at the Distinction Hotel and Villas in Te Anau on Monday and Tuesday from 9am.

The hearings will continue at the Southland District Council office in Invercargill from Thursday.

The Southland Times