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Council Meeting 28 October 

District Plan Variation

There was not a lot to report from today’s Council – pretty much all sweetness and light excepting for a predicable display of petulance from Sandra Goudie over the Natural Character No 1 Variation of the proposed DP. This did nothing more than bring together all the work that had been done since the 4 March 2015 meeting when Council decided to withdraw the Natural Character overlay, objectives and provisions from the Proposed DP for review.

This is of course arguably the most controversial aspect of District Plan. Interesting that it was presented by Sam Napia in the unexplained absence of Leigh Robke who has had carriage of the Plan to date.

Actually, Leach displayed uncharacteristic patience dealing with Goudie today despite consummate provocation, but to be honest I don’t think her heart was in it – it sounded to me like a pretty rote display – all fire and brimstone - she voted against it of course “on behalf of the of all the little landowners on whom the requirements of the variation will impose onerous and unnecessary requirements by way of a ‘punitive’ approach.” She was of course ‘playing to the audience,’ and would have heard loud cheers and drum rolls in the distance as she stamped her little feet.

Here is the Paper on the subject – you can access all the PDF’s individually, but basically the Variation covers 87 units in total that are considered to have Outstanding or High levels of Natural Character warranting preservation against the ravages of development any kind. Note one of Goudie’s major gripes is the extension of the policy into ‘rural’ rather than just ‘coastal’ – a fairly hairy point considering the essential over-lap between the two, but it surely gave her a hammer to have a go at staff.

I am no expert in the field, but the Variation appears to me to be a reasonable compromise between what may constitute unreasonableness, and doing nothing. With the natural desire to ‘make a buck’ the determinate in most decision making around the Peninsula, it is not unreasonable to preserve those areas (only 87 for Heaven’s sake!) that meet these criteria:

  • The extent of natural elements, patterns and processes that occur and are legible on the ground;
  • The degree to which human activities and modification impose their own values on the coastal environment;
  • The highest levels of natural character occur where there is the least modification.  

It seems to me that the Planning Department have done a splendid job in putting this together, and that what was always going to be the most difficult part of their DP task it has been accomplished in an exemplary manner. We are indeed fortunate to have a top team in this area who appear not to allow all the other stuff swirling around them in the Castle to affect their performance.

Annual Report

This was adopted without much ado – it describes a pretty outstanding year in terms of financial performance, but I detected a strong element of concern about failure to achieve Capex targets during the year – this of course has direct positive effect on the surplus, Leach was full of praise, but not of the usual back-slapping, World Champion variety.

Even he has cause for concern at the apparent failure to execute on time, though there was a hint that the review of underground facilities may be giving them ‘food for thought,’ and an indication of substantial liability in the years ahead – Hammond referred to the “sweating of assets” – that sounded a good line!

Auditor General representative David Walker was fulsome in his praise for the work that has been done, though I think he stretched credulity with a claim that ”carry-forward” ten years ago equatewd to the entire Capex budget. I can remember some pretty strong words even then, but nothing that bad!

The guts of the matter is that in the best run organisations, under-expenditure is regarded in the same light as over – unacceptable, and never to be applauded, because of way in which performance is distorted. I have seen those responsible “hauled over the coals” in many organisations for no less a sin – something that just does not happen here.

David Walker indicated that the AG “spot-check” regime picked up pre PRINCE2 projects that reflected the previous unlamented project management regime. The results indicated the continuing problems with that regime as a result, but he appeared sanguine that everything now was likely to improve – we can but hope!

Cemetery & Dog By-Laws  

This led to a good stouch between Leach and Goudie as she defended the decision to eliminate the Policy Committee because of “lack of work.” There ensued an exchange with Leach as to who was actually responsible for its demise! It seems that Judicial is happy to take on the By-law role, but not everyone around the table was in that category. French suggested that it be revived, but Leach quickly moved on – there is no way he is having Goudie back in that role, though he admitted that he “had not given enough thought to its (the Committee's) role at the time”!

Goudie took the opportunity to loudly complain about the lack of data, and policy  in the By-law area. Yeah, I guess!

Pauanui Campground Development Contributions

There is a 180 odd site development proposed – it DC’s have been argued over for a year or two. Under the previous DC regime, the developer would have ben up for about $1.6m, but it would not have gone ahead at that rate. It has now been worked down to $535k and mainly involves waste-water and water connections to existing infrastructure.

Clearly, staff are anxious about residential development by ‘stealth’ as has happened at other parks in the District that shall go un-named, and they want Council liability sewn-up as tight as possible in that regard, and in the event of the developer going under – he does not appear to be that well resourced – sending David Lamason to the Public Forum to argue his way down to $450k, and to say that the development in unlikely otherwise was enlightening - eh!!

The major issue therefore revolved around a bond that is likely to cost him (the developer) no more than 2% per annum for the 5 years he needs to pay off the DC. Fortunately Council dug its heels in and agreed to ‘call his bluff’ on this and the term (he wanted 7 years)  This Council is beginning to learn about costly precedents.

Public Excluded

Two items escaped the agenda, and appeared on the Fly-sheet that is distributed at the beginning of each meeting to indicate the timing of the agenda.

The two items were:

7.7 Coromandel Harbour Partnership Brochure and MOU. and

7.8 Sugarloaf Title.

There was no other explanation, or ‘Reasons’ or ‘Grounds’ as required by the Meeting’s Act in regard to these two items. They will no doubt have done something to rectify this at the outset of Public Excluded – I did not hang around to see, but they knew about it at the beginning of the meeting, and under the Act they are required to provide that information at that time.

I get heartily sick of bringing these issues to the fore, but it is important, if for other reason than that they do appear to have something to hide from the public. In this case, it seems certain that a ‘secret’ brochure and MOU has been prepared in relation to Coromandel Harbour Development. Could it be that they will now endeavour to carry out ‘secret’ negotiations with a potential developer – say Hopper?

How long do you think it is that they imagine they can keep this deal ‘secret?’ It is our rates that they are spending in carrying on this TPPA like activity. At what point does the public have a right to know what is going on in regard to this proposed $60m development?




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