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Wednesday
Mar122014

Bring on the $QC's$

Today’s Council meeting was a ‘catch-up' using up a Reserve Day. It was mainly to adopt staff recommendations regarding the District Plan before its final distribution. Most were ho-hum and of little consequence, but there was a frisson of dissatisfaction around the table in regard to the old saw – ‘property rights’. Expect many more attempts in the weeks ahead to alter the direction of the Plan in order to adopt far greater protections, and causes for compensation.

But a real pearler came at the end of the discussion when a late paper was distributed that will certainly become the basis of numerous appeals once land-owners become aware of its intent. The Mayor was adamant that Council already had the power detailed in the amendment, but that it clarified and solidified the ability of Council to create and take esplanade land that it needed for walkways in particular. 

It clearly arises as a a result of Leach’s frustration at being thwarted by certain land-owners who have apparently refused to negotiate over access rights for his Hot-water Beach to Purangi “Great Walk”! Readers of previous posts will be aware of the circumstances.

It will be extremely annoying for a great number of people that this has sneaked into the Plan as the result of last-minute actionl, though Leach appeared sanguine at the prospect of a later appeal. should it survive the Hearings. But I bet he had some talking to do to get it past the more conservative elements around the table. And Goudie skidaddled on 'conflict of interest' - she being a Commissioner (for the District Plan hearings), for better or worse. Brljevich appeared to get a dissent into the motion based on his unhappiness over compensation. 

They certainly did not appear happy about the prospect this morning, and I suggest that Leach has today expended some of his hard won political capital, but it had obviously been ‘work-shopped’ and the dissent was muted. .

The measure takes advantage of Section 229(b) which sets out the purpose of esplanade reserves to allow public access to or along any sea, river, or lake. The general presumption is that compensation is not payable when an allotment of less than 4 hectares is created on sub-division. Compo is only required where the allotment is 4 hectares or more.

Here is the rub, and I quote:

“As proposed, the Plan has a strong policy framework directing consideration of opportunities to maintain and enhance public access to the coast and district water bodies.”

 and

“The Plan is not specific about the Council’s position on acquiring esplanade on allotments created over 4 hectares nor does it include a specific rule to this effect.”

Section 77 of the RMA enables esplanade to be set aside or created from allotments greater than 4 hectares along the mark of mean high water springs of the sea.

This then culminated in the following recommendation:

  1. Make the Plan explicit about the circumstances when esplanade reserves will be taken.
  2. Amend the subdivision rules in relation to the creation of esplanade reserves in the Rural Area to include specific standards for esplanade reserves where allotments greater than 4 hectares are created along the mark of mean high water springs to the sea.
  3. Include additional matters for assessment of restricted discretionary activities relating to esplanade reserves and public areas.

All this sounds innocent enough, but behind it all is the heavy hand required to acquire the land needed for Leach’s walkways. And if I not mistaken, the need for same, and the structure of the change may well have been suggested by John Gaukroger whose past experience in this area is manifest. I suspect that he took one look at the tortuous route that had been earlier proposed, and convinced Leach of the need for the change in order to buttress the Council’s right to bulldoze through – literally!

Watch for retrospective elements in the final draft! 

 

 

 

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