Twizel residents fight to save 'bowling green'

JACK MONTGOMERIE
Last updated 05:00 02/09/2014
meridian

PLANNED: An artist's impression of the proposed new Meridian Energy office building in Twizel.

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Twizel residents continue to resist the Mackenzie District Council's controversial land sale to Meridian Energy for its planned new offices.

Twizel resident Graeme Bond said several locals had asked him to approach the Ombudsman about the consultation process the council and community board followed when selling the land on the corner of Mackenzie Drive and Market Place.

"A lot of people have come to me and one offered money for lawyers' fees," Bond said.

Bond said many of Twizel's 1100 residents believed the planned office building should be moved 50 metres south to prevent covering a lawn locally called "the bowling green".

Bond believed lack of zoning protection had allowed the sale to proceed. "Somebody cocked up five or six years ago," he said.

But he was unsure if a complaint could prevent the deal.

Val McMillan, who has lived in Twizel for 35 years, said she "felt sick" about the sale.

"Our community board have shot us in the foot. We didn't know about it until it was pretty much a done deal," she said.

Local man Graeme Vaughan has also circulated a petition opposing the deal.

Mackenzie District Mayor Claire Barlow said she was "quite satisfied" the council's finance committee had followed appropriate processes in considering the sale.

Councillor Russell Armstrong, a Twizel resident, said he would be "giving it everything" to appeal to Meridian Energy to alter the plans.

A public meeting on August 23 had shown Twizel residents' opposition to the planned building's location.

Armstrong, who had previously avoided votes on the sale because of a conflict of interest, said he and Councillor James Leslie would approach "a couple of swingers" on the council to try and ensure the "bowling green" was preserved.

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- The Timaru Herald

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