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On Tuesday morning the Stoney Creek Village Limited Development Team invited all submitters for and opposed to the building of the new retirement village in Wanaka to a pre-hearing meeting. Over 50 submitters turned up in opposition and both Lakes Environmental and the Development Team got an earful of public opinion.
The Stoney Creek Developers began the hearing by acknowledging the submitters opinion and clearing the air of any misconceptions that may have been construed over the previous ten months. The major points covered were the height and density of the development, the application process, the tree removal and flooding problems.
Along with these points, Mark Brown, the Developers selected speaker said, “We are not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes; this is a retirement village and Tony Hanson’s track record attests to that.”
Although the Developer’s went through extensive areas of contention, there lacked any physical evidence that the alleged changes had been registered with Lakes Environmental, nor had the process followed the Wanaka District Plan from the start.
Immediately following the Developer’s opportunity to regain the public’s trust, the submitters were invited to speak for or against Stoney Creek Village. Only one member of the public spoke for the plan, while the rest of the Wanaka community members present offered sound reasons why the Retirement Village was unacceptable.
The first uproar from the crowd was caused by local resident and business owner Greg Marshall. He called Mr. Brown’s statement into question by offering insight into Tony Hannon’s track record highlighting numerous receiverships, moratoriums, and major losses in investor’s revenue. Mr. Marshall noted that Seniorcare Investment Management, directed by Tony Hannon had financial problems in the past, and questioned why Stoney Creek would be any different.
The mediator cut Mr. Marshall off before he could proceed further, but the local community stood up, declaring they had a right to about Mr. Hannon’s adverse track record just as much as the plan changes. Sparks flew as the mediator curtailed Mr. Marshall among others, leaving the public feeling as if they were speaking to an arrogant eight meter high wall.
Among the strong points of those opposed, the Otago Regional Council voiced the opinion that the proposed Village would create a long term permanent flood risk that otherwise doesn’t exist.
Many submitters targeted their complaints at Lakes Environmental, questioning how and why this resource consent application was allowed to move so far down the tracks, when it clearly did not comply with the district plan from the start. Submitters believed the lack of communication with the community was disrespectful and they couldn’t trust that a timely report would be finished by December 21st.
The Wanaka City Council was also criticised further because there was no representation present.
Towards the end of the meeting a clear impasse was evident. The Developers took the chance to wrap the meeting up by stating, “It is a work in progress and the pre-hearing meeting took place in order to gauge the public opinion and response.”
Submitters jumped on this statement, illustrating that a ‘work in progress’ needed to go through a re-notification process through Lakes Environmental rather than clandestine, unpublicised meetings. Lakes Environmental representatives responded by explaining the scope of the changes and extended effects determined whether the re-notification process was necessary.
As December 21st approaches so does the deadline for yearly resource consents. The Developer’s lawyer believed that a re-notification was next to impossible due to the time constraints, signalling the need for all parties concerned move hastily no matter what the objectives are. If this does not proceed by this time period, the process will be pushed back until at least February.