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Coastal erosion solution at Cooks Beach

This is today's PR:

It's taken over six years but 22 property owners from Cooks Beach finally reached an agreement at the weekend to pay for a new backstop wall to prevent futher coastal erosion at the Eastern end of the beach.

As a property owner, our Council has invested six years of legal and environmental advice to help find a solution for all the affected properties.

It has been difficult getting all the affected property owners to
agree to pay towards a new wall across all properties.  With the beach in good condition there was no sense of this being a priority. However, the recent Easterly storm seriously eroded the beach undermining existing walls and protection of properties is now seen as urgent. 

Only two properties have full-time residents.

"The current erosion has brought things to a head, but there could never have been such a straight forward outcome without the long and patient involvement of Council's Planning Manager Peter Wishart and Coastal Scientist Jim Dahm for the last six or so years." says Mercury Bay Community Board Chairperson Alison Henry, who attended the meeting.

"It is their work that paved a good path to follow now that there is urgent need for action.  They have been constant in their message of this being a landowners' responsibility, not council's, and that is just what happened," says Alison Henry.

"It is the landowners who have stepped up and taken charge.   Without all that good work and information we would not have reached the successful outcome so easily."

Mr Wishart says the perseverance and involvement of two particular property owners, John Matthews and Steve Hoskens, also helped.

"They constantly kept engaged with Council throughout the past six years. There was some difficult times when resolution looked a long way off. Their commitment to successfully working it out is testament to their efforts," he says.

A steering committee will now be set up and the members of this committee will possibly become the future directors of a proposed company.

A memorandum of understanding is being signed and everyone is being asked to contribute money towards appointing an engineer and begin the resource consent process.

It's hoped a new coastal rock wall will be built by March next year.

The only role Council will have now and in the future is that of an affected landowner and will be asked to contribute along with all the others

Most of the proposed back stop wall will be buried by sand most of the time, with all property owners contributing to the structure's upkeep. Council already has existing sandscraping consents that can be used for future remedial work.

An encumbrance will also be put on the titles of all the affected properties.

Along with affected property owners, those who attended the meeting were/ Glen Nicholson /(check spelling)/ from Tonkin and Taylor engineering design, Ken Knowlson /(sp)/ from Transfield contractors and solicitor Alan Henry.

Five property owners at the Western end who were unable to attend the meeting will also be contacted. Four of them had earlier indicated they would support the decision.

This solution has taken some years of input from Council staff and consultants, at substantial hidden cost already to rate-payers. There is of course an in-built feeling of entitlement evident amongst beach side bach owners in general. For some reason, restoration of beaches and prevention of erosion that affects the value of their properties is somehow seen as a Council responsibility. Similar is now happening up at Buffalo Beach, and shortly at various other locations up and down the Eastern  beaches. This attitude is not peculiar to the Coromandel, but I suspect that the imposition on other ratepayers is probably far more onerous here than elsewhere. 

It is a relief to hear that the only Council involvement now and in the future will be "as an affected landowner" - exactly as it should be. What is not explained is the level of back-ground expenditure already incurred in bringing reluctant landowners to the table, and finally to agreement.

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