Synlait Milk's contested new factory at Pokeno may have got in the way of a neighbour's plans for a 1000-section housing development.
A Court of Appeal judgment that has thrown listed Synlait's $280 million plant at Pokeno into confusion by upholding restrictive covenants on the land, notes that Karl Ye, who sought the court ruling, wants his south Pokeno land rezoned residential for his subdivision.
Further inquiries by the Herald show Ye, also known as Qing Ye, made a submission to the Waikato District Council in October to rezone his 148ha properties residential. His land is currently farmed.
The council's proposed district plan wants to rezone Ye's land rural and the land Synlait has built on to heavy industrial.
Two 200-year covenants on the Synlait land restrict its use to grazing, lifestyle farming and forestry.
Ye owns the benefits of the covenants, which have only run for 20 years.
Synlait bought the 28ha Pokeno site in February last year for a powder processing plant conditional on seller Stonehill Trustee Ltd getting the covenants removed.
But shortly after Synlait started earthworks and in November the High Court removed the covenants and Synlait settled the deal.
But Ye appealed the High Court decision and Stonehill Trustee filed a cross appeal.
The Court of Appeal on May 9 ruled the previous High Court decision was wrong and reinstated the covenants.
On May 10 Synlait chief executive Leon Clement told the NZX the company intended to continue with its plans at Pokeno and was "confident the covenants issue should be able to resolved".
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Synlait's factory is all but finished and was due to start processing milk when the new dairy season got under way last Friday.
Ye, who will only talk through a spokesman, is also behind a plan for a large agri-tourism development on his land, which borders Waikato River. The plan provided for a 250-room hotel and a showcase farm, and earthworks for the project were due to start next month, the spokesman said. He previously told the Herald that Ye's investment on the land could add up to $1 billion over time.
Synlait said it was not able to comment on Ye's plans for his land.
On May 21 Synlait told the NZX it had received a cease and desist letter from Ye's lawyers.
Ye's spokesman said the letter had a Friday, May 24, 5pm deadline. The spokesman said "Synlait's response indicated that they would keep to their construction as planned".
The Court of Appeal decision said after signing the conditional sale agreement with Synlait, Stonehill unsuccessfully tried to negotiate removal of the covenants with Ye.
Ye's company NZ Industrial Park had complained in June last year that Synlait was starting construction and asked for building to stop. Stonehill had not acknowledged the complaint. Stonehill then went to court.
Two other parties, Stuart PC and Grander Investments, also own land that benefit from the covenants.
Stuart PC agreed to rights under the covenants being extinguished last year. But Grander Investments only found out about the High Court action after it started.