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Sugarloaf Agreement

A late afternoon presser announces the signing of the new Agreement with Gilbert James of the CMFA.

The whole drama surrounding the planning for Coromandel Harbour presaged by the expansion of the Sugar Loaf facility at Te Kouma to accommodate the increased needs of the mussel farming industry while allowing the continued use of the facility by recreational fishers is summarised in this less than overwhelming presser. The latter is required because it is a Council owned facility on Crown Land (?) to which the farmers had no particular priority.

It seemed to take years for this Council to come to terms with the particular circumstances surrounding this facility, and just how its development was to be accommodated within the overall plans for the development of the harbour. The expressions grandiose, ignorant, speculative and contradictory are not ill-used when considering what has taken place over the last six years.

Assumptions were made regarding the willingness of farmers to fund any part of the expansion, and likewise the willingness of Te Kouma residents to agree to expansion that compromised their lifestyle, and living conditions.

It was always a recipe for disaster as Council staff and elected representatives blundered through these separate interests while attempting to devise a plan that would be acceptable to all, and at the same time allow for ferry requirements, and the provision of new launching/ marina/fuelling  requirements somewhere else in the Harbour – initially at Furey’s Creek, and more recently the grandiose ‘Inner Harbour’ concept that appeared to involve the provision or large lumps of Council funding in some kind of private/public project costing over $60m north of the Coromandel wharf.  

Leach has appeared at all times to have major and mixed motives for having this whole project under way before his departure from office, and manoeuvred Hammond into a project management role when it appeared too big for Hampton. It has not helped to have Hammond resign, but he must have realised that the whole deal was fraught with too much difficulty even for him to handle, and was going nowhere in attracting outside interest that was required to get it off the ground – a repeat of the failure to attract any interest in the fanciful aquaculture project.

Meanwhile new personnel continue to play musical chairs with the various roles culminating in the not very hopeful statement:

“The Project Team will continue working with the Coromandel Stakeholders Working Group for updates and to get feedback on the Sugarloaf Wharf project and the Inner Harbour Project.”

The questions that must now be asked include:

  1.  Who is to own the new extended wharf currently owned by Council?
  2. Who will project manage the development? (recent experience with the Dry Court in Thames will surely be causing concern regard letting this out of Council hands when the chips are down)
  3. The presser indicates “internal capital raising” as the source of funding, and rather hopefully “potential central government initiatives” (the former has been rejected by members in the past, and I rather suspect that the latter is tied to aquaculture development that is simply is not going to happen)
  4. Are we to assume that the new extensions to be funded by Council loans to the Association? (there is next to no chance that existing farmer members of the Association will put their hands in their pockets)
  5. How will land ownership with iwi be resolved? (this is all tied up with the Hauraki Settlement, and a real reluctance by its members to commit any land deemed to be within their purview to any project – a situation unlikely to change anytime soon regardless of the timing of the Settlement) 
  6. What is the formula to be used in regard to the shared occupancy with recreational users? (this is important because it vary over time, is a constant irritant to commercial users. Until the financials surrounding this aspect are determined, it remains a major risk to rate-payers, and requires justification based on existing boat launching policies)
  7. What accommodation has been reached with Te Kouma residents to forestall long threatened action through the Environment Court to block further development? (silence from that direction does not denote aquiescence)
  8. Is Leach is smiling through gritted teeth, and James signing on the dotted line under duress?

Gilbert James describes the MOU as “hopefully clarifying and recording the relationship between CMFA and the Council and who will do what.” That is yet to be seen. Occupancy rights remain to be determined along with the shared costs, and the conditions of a lease that records the interest yet to be granted by the Cown with “due consideration of iwi interests.” Ben Day gets his oar into the presser by adding the need to “resolve title for reclaimed land.” That will be interesting given iwi interest in the foreshore and seabed.

It has taken years now to get to this point, and yet we are expected to cheer Leach and his cohort for having made significant progress.

Rubbish – it is more like a lifeless, if not dead duck, and not much to show for all the hullaballoo we have heard over the years. 



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Reader Comments (5)

The consent for expansion at Sugar Loaf is again in the hands of the MFA. It was always ridiculous that Ratepayers were funding this industry and at least some sense has come into the agreement. A lot of " negotiation" and hot air to end up with the situation of 6 years ago!
In the meantime Waipapa Bay residents now have a designated "marine zone" on their doorstep and will have to suffer 4.30 am starts with even less noise regulation.
Not that that is anything new as we are constantly disturbed in the early morning hours. Council noise control is a laugh!

April 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMegan Mackie

Megan's point is very relevant on a higher level. Even if the facility ownership issues are sorted (and take it from someone who knows, they are actually more straight forward than you are leading us to believe Bill!), the RMA process will make any expansion very difficult to achieve. It took something like 20 years to get Whangamata marina consented from when it was first mooted, this will be no different with the right opponents. Its also important to understand that the Coromandel Marine farmers were the major funder in 1992, with NZTA kicking in for some obscure reason, and Council, who were the minority funder as I recall - and the Coromandel marine farmer contribution was a loan from TCDC which they paid in full with interest - and they'd be happy to do this again too I suspect!. There are some really easy ways to get favourable outcomes for all, and I cant understand why these aren't being explored. Hampton certainly wouldn't have the knowledge to understand these things, and neither would Day, but TCDC does now have a legal team. Why aren't they providing good advice?
Anyway, I do agree this things a mess, but it really doesn't have to be.this messy. TCDC you've really made things difficult for yourselves!

April 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersailing away

I see Sailor - just confirm that my understanding of the facts is correct please:
1. The Council owns the existing facility.
2. The CMFA paid for it through a no-interest loan from the Council.
3. The land is owned by the crown
4. The land is subject to determination under the Hauraki Settlement.
5. The CMFA have now taken over the project management of the new piled wharf.
6. You are suggesting that the Council again loan them part (probably most) of the money to accomplish this.
7. A percentage (quite possibly most) farmers have objected to funding participation in the past.
8. Just who does Gilbert James represent if that is the case? Major players, or Mom & Pop outfits?
9. The entire structure will still belong to the Council.
10. The Hauraki Settlement conditions remain in limbo and may result in iwi ownership, oversight and determination of leasehold conditions.
Forget the RMA, what I would like to know is precisely how do you imagine the ownership issues are to be so easily resolved if the situation is as I have outlined it above?
Talk about a convoluted, arse-about, and more importantly legally dubious arrangement designed to achieve precisely what?
The faces on the two parties in the photo say it all - neither are confident of the outcome, and both realise that this is simply a device to get the whole she-bang neatly sewn up before the election, and it explodes in some-ones face.
I can imagine the legal team hiding out in the back office and wondering what the hell they have done - but no-one messes with Leach when the chips are down and he wants his own way.
In other words it just another example of his economic shambles to add to all the others he has concocted.

May 1, 2016 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

Mr "Sailing Away" is well known - and clearly knows a lot having had watch over Coromandel harbour facilities for almost 10 years at TCDC pre 2013.

During his 9 year tenure;
- Non-consented activities at Sugar loaf wharf were ignored
- a draft management plan was drafted but never implemented
- assets deteriorated
- user charges were not enforced
- and no future facility planning seemed be to seriously undertaken.

Since his departure in 2012;
- an updated Operational Management Plan has been developed and implemented with input from industry and residents
- unconsented commercial activities have been barred from the Sugarloaf
- Commercial User Licenses for wharves implemented to better manage and control those activities
- boat ramp fees are now collected more effectively
- user pay passenger fees implemented for charters and the ferry
- accordingly user revenue has increased over 150% since 2012.
- parking bylaws have been implemented on Te Kouma rd to control road congestion and inconsiderate parking
- park n ride facility planned for construction pre- October 2016 to further reduce road and parking congestion

Are things perfect? Far from it , Coromandels harbour facilities have had decades of neglect and it will take a long time and serious investment to make a significant difference.

enough said...Sail on buddy!

I can't speak for Sailing Away - you (Coromandel Ratepayer) appear to have inside knowledge as to who he/she is and what he/she was responsible for prior to 2013. The impression you give is that you are a staff member, and if that is the case, I applaud the progress that you have achieved.
The irony is that all of the contrary indications listed above appear to relate to actual staff responsibilities. If Sailing Away was a councillor, and I have no idea if that is the case, he can hardly be held responsible for these failures.
Further, your comments appear to fail to address the issues raised in the post or the previous comments.
Can we please keep the argument on point - otherwise it will deteriorate into recrimination.
The post simply relates to what Leach and James signed up on our behalf last week.

May 2, 2016 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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