Gull con­cerns raised

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

Fears a new un-manned petrol sta­tion would mean a ‘‘des­o­late con­crete space’’ for Toko­roa’s main drag have been coun­tered by de­vel­op­ers open­ing the door to work­ing with lo­cal coun­cil on the area af­ter orig­i­nally scut­tling their plans.

A con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal for a 24-hour un-manned Gull ser­vice sta­tion along­side SH1 in Toko­roa had its re­source con­sent hear­ing on Fri­day.

South Waikato District Coun­cil at­tended the hear­ing to de­fend their orig­i­nal plan of work­ing with land­hold­ers Raukawa on us­ing the site as part of a pos­si­ble re­vamp of Leith Place.

The day- long hear­ing was over­seen by in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sioner Alan Wat­son.

Mayor Neil Sin­clair was adamant there had al­ways been a plan for the ‘‘Blue Build­ing’’, the old bus sta­tion on Bridge St, which would be de­mol­ished if the sta­tion were to go ahead.

Sin­clair said there had been past dis­cus­sions about the build­ing with Raukawa.

‘‘ It is ev­i­dent that the blue build­ing has al­ways been part of coun­cil’s think­ing for the de­vel­op­ment of the cen­tral area,’’ he said.

Mor­ris­sey’s cloth­ing store owner Larry Sul­li­van, fo­cused on the fu­ture.

The Leith Place busi­ness owner said his sur­prise over the plans an­nounced last year were fol­lowed by ‘‘dis­ap­point­ment’’.

Al­though he was wor­ried over the sta­tion be­com­ing a ‘‘des­o­late con­crete space’’ he was just as con­cerned over traf­fic safety.

‘‘I have wit­nessed hun­dreds of driver er­rors and a num­ber of ac­ci­dents in this area over the years and now to add a fuel sta­tion’s en­try and exit to this area will with­out doubt cause added er­rors and ac­ci­dents,’’ he said.

Rep­re­sent­ing Gull was plan­ning con­sul­tant Tracy Hayson and Gull re­tail de­vel­op­ment and sus­tain­abil­ity man­ager Karl Mis­chewski.

Raukawa iwi de­vel­op­ment chair­woman Vanessa Eparaima was in sup­port of Gull’s pro­posal.

And she said the blue build­ing’s in­volve­ment in the Leith Place de­vel­op­ment was never a sure thing.

‘‘I’m aware there has been dis­cus­sions in place, in our view they have been as­pi­ra­tional and there has been no for­mal dis­cus­sions,’’ she said.

While Raukawa had seem­ingly turned their back on the col­lab­o­ra­tion with the coun­cil, Mis­chewski said there was still a chance to work to­gether.

In the pro­posed plan there would be va­cant land.

‘‘We’re still open to the idea if they want a su­per loo or in­for­ma­tion cen­tre . . . if the coun­cil po­ten­tially don’t get their way, we’re still happy to work with them,’’ he said.

Mis­chewski said al­though the coun­cil does not see any eco­nomic ben­e­fit for the town in the way of em­ploy­ment he be­lieved Gull could cover other ar­eas.

He said the ‘‘low prices’’ will cre­ate a ‘‘rip­ple ef­fect’’.

‘‘We think there will be a sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit in terms of lower fuel prices . . . mirac­u­lously the other fuel prices will drop.’’ Street lights have claimed top spot for com­plaints. The South Waikato District Coun­cil re­ceived 445 ser­vice re­quests in the last fi­nan­cial year. The re­quests were up by 62 on the pre­vi­ous year. Of these re­quests, 94 per cent were dealt to in the re­quired time frame. Van­dal­ism of street lights has also been an is­sue. Some were dam­aged by stones thrown at them. The re­place­ment of lights that are not able to be re­paired is about $3000. A $10,000 speed mon­i­tor pur­chased in 2009 has been found use­ful. The cost of the Aus­tralian im­ported de­vice was split be­tween the South Waikato District Coun­cil and ACC and has been used district-wide, record­ing speeds of up to 173 kilo­me­tres per hour.

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