Featherston’s ‘shingle pit’. PHOTO/FILE
South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier has called for an investigation into land issues on Featherston’s main street, after news that council-owned land might not be able to be built on.
The Times-Age reported on Saturday that anyone wanting to build on 57 Fitzherbert St would have to spend “hundreds of thousands” of dollars to move a telecommunications duct owned by Chorus – news that was not known until recently.
Developers Marcus Darley and Neil McLachlan have walked away from a proposed project to build a retail hub on the site, between the SuperValue supermarket and the town square.
The move sparked anger and disappointment among Featherston residents, who blamed South Wairarapa District Council, and believed that the hub would have created jobs and attracted more visitors to the town.
On Monday, Mrs Napier said that the “issue around the land on Fitzherbert St is very important to the Featherston community and we are doing all we can to sort out the issues”.
She said an investigation would be led by council management and presented at the next council meeting in May.
“We have to know and understand what the issues are, and what impact they could have for the future development of this piece of land. The report will do this.
“We want a successful outcome for the people of Featherston and the South Wairarapa and will continue to work positively with the Featherston Community Board and the community to create successful short-term and long-term plans for the area.”
The report comes hard on the heels of a governance review launched after former Featherston ward councillor Dayle Harwood resigned from the council on April 8, citing “no confidence” in the council leadership.
The governance review will be conducted by consultancy firm Equip, part of Local Government NZ, with the terms of reference now signed off by councillors.
It will focus on the adequacy of the council’s “governance policies, systems and processes”, and would recommend whether changes were needed.
Mrs Napier said she prided herself on “listening to any concerns” of the community.
“The reports on Fitzherbert St and former councillor Dayle Harwood were instigated by me.
“It’s important that issues are thoroughly reviewed and if changes need to be made within council then they will be made. I will make sure of it.”
The council is conducting a by-election to fill the councillor position, with nominations closing on May 14.
If an election is required, it will be conducted by postal vote, with the winning candidate announced on July 10.
Mrs Napier said there were several “positive initiatives” coming up for Featherston, including the unveiling of the Paul Dibble Sculpture in November, and the development of the rail trail.