Lease plan mooted for controversial Queenstown reserve

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Queenstown businesses using a public reserve for parking and storage could lease the land off the council in the future. 

Property owners and tenants at Margaret Place have been using land set aside by past councils to screen the unsightly industrial area from the main road into Queenstown for about 10 years. 

In May 2010 the Community Services Committee decided businesses would be booted off the Glenda Local Purpose (tree planting) Reserve. 

But a new committee passed a motion last Tuesday to start the process for infringing businesses to lease the land for car parking. 

An option to sell the land to neighbouring businesses was vetoed in favour of leasing the land and using the rent to plant out the remaining reserve land to provide a visual buffer, as originally intended by council. 

The land owners would also be responsible for irrigating and maintaining the area. 

“If it does work I think we get a win-win for the community,” councillor and committee chairperson Cath Gilmour said. 

Gilmour added she has driven down the highway towards the industrial site and insists the view isn’t as ugly as the RESA or other developments in the area. 

Before reserve status is revoked and the land is able to be leased, it must be publicly notified. Submissions heard by two independent commissioners and the Ministry of Conservation must ok the move. 

Resource consent will also be required before the land can be subdivided and partially leased. 

But long-term local Nelda Thompson, who has lives across from the industrial area, made a plea to council during public forum not to allow the land to be leased. 

“Do no bow to developer pressure,” Thompson said. 

However, property owner Tony Strain said: “We’re not developers, we’re not looking for something for nothing – this is a win-win for everybody.” 

Other property owners and tenants who spoke during public forum urged the committee to allow the land to be leased since the cash-strapped council couldn’t afford to plant trees on the reserve anyway. 

The cost for businesses to lease the land wasn’t discussed. 

There is $40,000 allocated for re-vegetation from 2013. 

In relation to whether the committee were setting a precedent for reserve land to be leased to businesses, Gilmour says: “There’s some precedent value in it.” 

Councillor Lex Perkins says council created the problem by allowing the development without adequate parking, so it’s up to them to correct it.