A Frankton woman thought she was victim to an April Fool’s prank when told McDonald’s had been approved a fast-food outlet across from her home.
Anti-Macca’s crusader Fiona McDonald was advised by Lakes Environmental on April 1 that the namesake burger giant had been given the nod for a 24-hour drive-through and restaurant near her house.
But despite the date of the announcement, she was shocked to discover LE wasn’t joking.
McDonald claims an LE planner told her just a week before that the application was likely to go to limited notification status – meaning she and other worried neighbours could get a say.
Having got about 250 signatures to a petition opposing the fast-food company’s plans, she’s furious so many people’s concerns have been ignored and the new McDonald’s will go ahead.
Those concerns include traffic safety and noise, rubbish, smells and visual pollution on the gateway to Queenstown.
The public get a say on far less significant applications, McDonald claims.
“This is for a processing food factory outlet, the third largest restaurant in town, operating 24 hours a day on what’s supposed to be the “sensitive” entrance to Queenstown.”
McDonald’s only needed “affected party” approvals from highway owner New Zealand Transport Agency, the next-door Mobil garage and the landowner on the other side – the burger chain itself.
Fiona McDonald takes issue with planning commissioner Jane Sinclair, who stated: “No adverse effects on privacy are anticipated as a result of the proposal.”
McDonald: “If you stand in my living room, [patrons] will have full view of me at all times.
“They can’t tell me my privacy hasn’t been ruined.”
In the consent file, LE manager Lee Webster states McDonald’s house is one of at least nine that “will be affected by the potential increase in traffic”.
“The effects on these properties relate to traffic entering and leaving the site and idling vehicles on the drive-through, especially during the night.”
McDonald says she can’t afford to appeal LE’s decision but could consider it if she gets enough support – her only option would be to seek a High Court judicial review.
Though LE – Queenstown Lakes District Council’s regulatory arm – considered the application “non-complying” because proposed signage breached the zone standard, planning boss Brian Fitzpatrick is satisfied it doesn’t need to be notified.
Fitzpatrick says the building’s in a commercial zone, only single storey and covers less of the site than allowed.
“We know about Fiona’s interest but we still can’t identify her as affected,” Fitzpatrick says.
“The best applicants will consult with neighbours who stick their hand up but we can’t require that.”
Fitzpatrick also says his planner suggested to McDonald that limited notification was a possibility, not a likelihood.
Local councillor Cath Gilmour sympathises with Fiona McDonald: “[The restaurant] has the potential to affect her personally in terms of traffic and just changing the feel of how it is around her home.
“It’s not as good-looking an entrance [to town] as it could have been if we had had better controls, but we don’t.”