District Plan Review (2)
Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 3:55PM
Bill Barclay

This is today's PP column word for word:

Sandra Goudie’s advertisement in the Hauraki Herald seeking ‘concerned’ recipients of TCDC’s SNA/LNC letter will have sent a few shivers around TCDC.

It may just be the opening shot in a new election campaign (watch out Glenn!), or an indication of real concern arising from the opaque content of the two, two page letters sent to some 5,000 (nearly 22%) ratepayers). A Press Release issued last week indicating that Council had had some 500 calls from what can only have been anxious recipients shows that the letters have raised considerable concern, and I suspect Sandra’s phone will be ringing off the hook as I write this.

Talk about putting a cat amongst the pigeons – these letters must rank right up there. Even if based on the best of intentions, it shows what can happen when bureaucrats endeavour to over explain every aspect of an issue – in this case “management and protection of landscapes” and the “natural character” of the Coromandel; all very laudable and timed to fit with the District Planning process currently under way. For some obscure reason, the two almost identical letters sent in the same envelope may well have created total confusion. And the Press Release that followed states “People should not be alarmed if parts of their property have been wrongly highlighted because there is always an error band with GIS work and we expected that”, along with a number of other belated re-assurances.   

Oh dear, I have the terrible feeling that this worthy project is about to sail on to shoals reminiscent of the Astrolabe Reef, as 5,000 mainly well-resourced citizens take umbrage at a) the utter obfuscation of the letters, and b) resulting changes to the District Plan that may affect their property values, and rights. Why on earth set about stirring up this particular pot in this manner? Most readers will have binned them before reaching the end of the first page. What needed to be said could have been said in one paragraph, though justifying all this effort and expense may have taken a little longer.

Our TCDC Planning Department has been under pressure ever since the election regarding its performance, and apparent desire rightly or wrongly, to inhibit development at every turn. These letters will not assist those who support rational planning to defend their work. On the contrary SNA could quickly morph into SNAFU. 

 

Update on Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 3:58PM by Registered CommenterBill Barclay

The letters referred to in this post were the main concern of seventeen ratepayers who attended public forum at yesterday's Council meeting - all prominent land owners who were clearly fuming over the content of the letters.

Their spokesperson was Reihana Robinson, who gave an impassioned and well researched submission that reflected the general concern at far too much influence of consultants and WRC planners in the process. 

Reihana pointed out that the whole proposal was premature and being driven by the District Plan Review without regard for the need for proper consultation. She maintained that the process was blind to the needs of land-owners, and that unnecessary concern had been caused as a result. It was suggested that the entire process be stopped in its tracks and withdrawn pending further consideration as to how the matter could be progressed slowly, surely and with more consultation that had been evident to date. It was pointed out that five years was allowed for the completion of the process under the Act. Reihana said much else that I will not repeat here, but it certainly got the message across. 

Council and staff need to take notice of this reaction - it is just the tip of the iceberg. Reihana is well qualified in this area, and should be carefully listened to. It was clear that there was substantial disquiet around the table, and neither the Mayor, nor Cr. Hoadley (District Plan Committee Member)  appeared to have been kept informed as to the content of the letter, though Committee Chair Cr French appeared to be 'in the loop'. Others, including in the media, later confirmed that the Mayor had been up with the play at all stages - his concern may have been feigned, and not for the first time. 

There was fire and brimstone brewing, particularly from Cr Hoadley's end of the Chamber before the meeting descended later into 'public excluded' - I suspect that there may have some harsh words spoken behind the door - and they needed to be. 

 

 

Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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