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Tensions rising on West Street debate

Greytown Menz Shed. PHOTOS/FILE

Tensions were palpable at Wednesday night’s meeting of the Greytown Community Board [GCB] as the topic of West St land-use was probed again.

South Wairarapa councillors decided last week to explore options for the future land-use of 85-87 West St via an 18-month exercise.

They voted for the process to start as soon as practicable, which was July 2022.

Public consultation to determine the future use of the land would happen after a detailed analysis was done and was set to be tied in with the 2023/24 annual plan process.

The council-owned site was handpicked for a multimillion-dollar cycling-inspired hospitality venue, but is already home to the Greytown Menz Shed.

At the September GCB meeting, members asked that the board be formally included in the design and management of the council’s public consultation process. This was because the issue had caused division and hurt in the community.

Although the consultation would be done district-wide, the GCB felt it needed to be more closely involved.

The recommendation was passed, with board member Graeme Gray and councillor Rebecca Fox voting against.

GCB chair Ann Rainford again brought recommendations to the table regarding the land-use consultation: “That the Greytown Community Board be kept informed at each stage of the process; that the board is fully involved in the consultation process; and that the proposed outcome goes to the Greytown Community Board before Assets and Services and final council sign-off”.

It was the latter that sent ripples through the meeting.

SWDC councillor Alistair Plimmer.

Councillor Alistair Plimmer said another resolution to “keep the pressure on council” was “pointless and … rude.”

GCB deputy chair Shelley Symes said she and Rainford believed the GCB should see the final proposal for the land-use before any binding decisions were made by the council.

“We have asked to be involved in the consultation process and that means we are asking to know what is happening,” Symes said.

Plimmer said Symes and Rainford were “missing the point”.

“If you are making the same resolution over and over again, there is only one way to interpret it – and that is to suggest the council is not listening.”

He interpreted Rainford’s resolution to mean the GCB would approve the proposed land use before the council did.

“That’s not how this works. You are a subset of council, not above council.”

Symes said the GCB was aware it did not have decision-making powers on council matters.

She said the resolution would ensure the board was aware of council staff recommendations regarding the land-use so there was time for concerns to be raised by the board before the council made a final decision.

“A lot of things can happen on the way between the last time someone spoke with us about something and what ends up being put on paper,” Symes said.

“This is us being sure that we are having our views adequately represented. It may actually end up helping you.”

The resolution was split into three parts and the first two were passed unanimously – that the GCB be kept informed at each stage of the process and that the board be fully involved in the consultation process.

The latter – that the proposed outcome goes to the GCB before final council sign-off – was withdrawn after a lack of support. In favour were Symes and Rainford.

Against were Fox, Plimmer, Gray, and board member Simone Baker.

An earlier attempt to pass the combined resolutions was foiled by a technology failure – Gray was unable to communicate his view via Zoom. – NZLDR

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