Sticky Forest submitter Mike Beresford is willing to meet Wanaka’s mountain biking community over the rezoning of the 50ha block of trails but Bike Wanaka is not keen to compromise.
Beresford recently amended his 2015 rezoning proposal so just 20ha would be developed but Bike Wanaka spokesman Simon Telfer says the club wants to protect the whole forest and fears being locked out because of public liability issues.
A Wanaka working group is now working behind the scenes in the hope the 1000-plus Maori owners will vote to sell the forest, opening up a chance for a community purchase.
Beresford is a Maori land owner and his original submission was a personal one. He now represents an owners’ working group.
READ MORE: * Wanaka working group goal to negotiate Sticky Forest deal with Maori landowners * Bike Wanaka explores future of Sticky Forest trails
He has also requested the forest’s outstanding natural landscape designation be uplifted, creating a lower development threshold.
Beresford and eight experts will argue the case at a district plan mapping hearing in Wanaka on June 14 but Bike Wanaka missed a submission deadline and cannot present opposing evidence.
Beresford’s bottom line is to gain economic benefit from the land, as intended in a Ngai Tahu land settlement.
The outcome would be “a fair option for the beneficiaries” and “a very generous outcome for the community,” Beresford said.
If the council rejected rezoning, “the possibility that it will be locked off from public use cannot be ruled out”, he said.
The Crown pays all costs, rates and insurance but owners become liable once the Maori Land Court transfers the title, probably this year.
Possible land uses are forest development, owner residential development, joint venture residential development, sale, or “take ownership and review”.
Telfer said Bike Wanaka “would be saddened that large swathes of Sticky Forest would be chopped down and built on, with the loss of many of our most loved and used biking and walking tracks”.
“We were surprised the developer’s evidence suggested that the Wanaka community would be locked out of Sticky Forest if re-zoning was not agreed to. Bike Wanaka will have to work even harder to ensure the whole of Sticky Forest, as we know it, becomes a community asset for our children and our childrens’ children,” Telfer said.
Queenstown Lakes District Council senior planner Craig Barr has recommended in a report to reject Beresford’s original submission. He will respond to the amended proposal at the hearing.
Barr’s report notes rezoning all 50ha could create 765 lots and says the most appropriate zone is rural because of landscape values. The site has servicing and access constraints.
Wanaka Community Board deputy chairman Quentin Smith is liaising with the Sticky Forest working group, the members of which have not been named.
Smith said Wanaka’s community had “real difficulties responding” because no-one had noticed Bereford’s 2015 submission among hundreds of suggested zone changes.
“The club doesn’t get to say what it wants to say in the forum. It all has to be outside the forum . . . If the submitter’s evidence is accurate, the only way to protect recreational opportunities on this land is for it to be publicly owned,” he said.
The outcome of Maori Land Court and district plan processes could take up to 18 months.
Beresford’s submission and supporting evidence was lodged with the Queenstown Lakes District Council on April 4.