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No end in sight to Greytown debate

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen holding his head in his hands during the Greytown Community Board meeting on Wednesday night. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Debate over the future of council-owned land in the centre of Greytown continues, despite a council promise to consider bringing forward public consultation.

The last piece of council-owned land in central Greytown – 85-87 West St – had been a subject of contention since developer Adam Blackwell made public his proposals for an entertainment and accommodation complex on the site.

South Wairarapa District Council had decided to hold on to the land until further public consultation before completing its 2024/34 Long Term Plan.

However, at a council meeting last week, they agreed to consider bringing this consultation forward.

Council officers would deliver a report detailing how such consultation might be achieved, including costs and timeframes.

At a Greytown Community Board meeting held via Zoom on Wednesday night, the board moved to recommend that they be formally included in the council’s management of the public consultation process.

Mayor Alex Beijen said that the council would include the board in the process. However, he said that the views of Greytown residents would not take priority over other South Wairarapa residents.
Board chair Ann Rainford said the community board wanted the council to consult with Greytown residents before extending the process to the rest of the district.

“That land is Greytown land,” Rainford said.

Beijen refuted this claim.

“That land is South Wairarapa land, Madam Chair, with respect, and we will go through a fair and legislated process to decide the future of it, [during] which consultation with the Greytown Community Board will occur,” Beijen said.

Two Greytown residents spoke in the public participation section of the meeting.

Derek Williams and John Norton said that the board should play a significant role in the consultation process.

Williams spoke on behalf of a group of residents who had launched a petition to reopen discussions on the use of the land.

“In our view, you should take a leadership position in both the design and the mechanics of making that consultation work. You are, after all, our community board.”

Williams said that deferring consultation until the 2024-2034 Long Term Plan process would significantly cost the economy.

Beijen appeared frustrated throughout the public participation section of the meeting, burying his head in his hands on several occasions.

“I’m really a bit confused about the discussion when we are agreeing that we will consider an earlier consultation process,” he said.

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