Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith assured councillors a plan change was not a building consent, and technical aspects would be reviewed in due course.
The Kaipara District Council is set to make a decision on a plan change that would allow 500 additional houses to be built in Mangawhai Central at a meeting in Dargaville next week.
The decision was to be made at a meeting in Mangawhai last month but was deferred as councillors said they had been rushed.
Councillors were to vote on whether they accepted the recommendation of independent commissioners to allow the private plan change.
KDC engagement general manager Jason Marris told councillors they were not being asked to consider the technical aspects of the plan change, merely whether to accept the findings of commissioners.
Mr Marris told councillors that if they did not accept the commissioner’s findings, the hearings would have to be re-held at substantial cost to the Council.
“You delegated the job of considering the hearings to commissioners. You don’t need to understand the application in fine detail,” Mr Marris said.
However, West Coast Councillor David Wills objected.
“So, our legal advice is that if we don’t fully understand the material, we should still make a decision?” Cr Wills asked.
But Mayor Jason Smith urged councillors to accept the findings of the commissioners.
“This a decision of expertise. Frankly, none of us around the table have the experience of the commissioners.”
Mangawhai Kaiwaka Councillor Jonathan Larsen moved a motion to “leave the item on the table”, deferring the decision for a month while councillors familiarised themselves with the commissioner’s report.
The motion passed five to three, with Mayor Smith, Cr Peter Wethey and Cr Eryn Wilson-Collins voting against the deferral.
The next meeting on the plan change will be held at 9.30am on April 28 at the Northern Wairoa Memorial Hall.
KDC approves Mangawhai location for Daring
The Daring Trust has been granted permission from Kaipara District Council (KDC) to temporarily store its 157-year-old schooner on Mangawhai Museum grounds.
The Daring was recovered relatively intact when it emerged from the sands in Muriwai during a storm in 2018. It was originally built in Mangawhai, and shipwrecked in 1865 after trying to cross the Kaipara Bar.
Daring Rescue team member Larry Paul presented to the KDC at a meeting last month, saying the
Daring schooner was currently sitting in Hobsonville waiting to be transported to Mangawhai.
He told Council the Daring would become an educational attraction to 300,000 students from 407 schools within a day trip distance of Mangawhai.
But West Coast Councillor Victoria del la Varis-Woodcock objected to the proposal on the grounds that it did not fit with the park’s master plan.
She said the plan required that the park provide residents with “unencumbered use”.
However, deputy mayor Anna Curnow moved to approve the Daring Trust’s proposal. It was seconded by Cr Peter Wethey and passed by seven votes to one.
Council brief public on controversial scheme
Kaipara District Council has produced a report with figures on the remaining capacity and outstanding debt related to Mangawhai’s EcoCare wastewater scheme.
The wastewater scheme was the subject of a near 10-year stoush between striking ratepayers and Council, which concluded in the Supreme Court last year.
The debt now sits at $34.5 million, down from the initial $58 million. A total of $9.6 million is still owed by ratepayers whose properties were part of the scheme at the time.
The remaining $24.9 million is expected to be paid for by developers’ contributions as the town grows.
The Council’s long-term plan 2021-31 estimates it will receive $20 million in development contributions in the next 10 years.
Ratepayers currently pay for $404,000 a year in interest on the outstanding debt.
Future additions to the EcoCare treatment plant will be required to keep up with demand. A balance tank to moderate flow during peak times will be installed this year at a cost of $2.5 million to be funded by developers and debt.
A total of $10 million has been put aside for further upgrades, possibly including a membrane filter to allow treated water to be used to irrigate a golf course.
Council says that this will bring the capacity of the plant up to 5000 connections. There are currently
2411 connections on the system and capacity for 2800.
The report follows a motion requesting it by Kaiwaka-Mangawhai Counsellor Jonathan Larsen. Cr
Larsen said he was encouraged that Council was able to openly discuss the issue.
“In the dark old days, discussion would have been done in secrecy. That is part of the reason the debt blowout was able to reach such a level,” he said.