Rural zoning and subdivision rules in the draft Kaipara District Plan were identified as contentious issues during discussion at a Kaipara District Council meeting last month.
As a result, non-statutory consultation on the draft has been delayed. Council had hoped to run an eight-week public engagement process starting on June 7.
A District Plan is Council’s rule book that determines the activities people can carry out in the district.
Kaipara’s Operative District Plan came into effect in 2013 and is due for renewal next year.
Council officers said the non-statutory engagement was a vital part of the plan development process, as it allowed provisions to be ‘tested’ with the public and stakeholders.
However, the majority of councillors wanted a further briefing held on some topics.
Mayor Dr Jason Smith said some elected members needed more time to come to grips with the impacts on communities before seeking feedback from the public.
While several councillors felt the document was already in the public domain and consultation should proceed, others felt their comments from earlier discussions were not reflected in the draft.
Mayor Smith voted to support the delay, but “with a heavy heart”.
“The genie is already out of the bottle – it is already out in the community and being commented on through social media,” he said at the May council meeting.
“It [the plan] affects every person who lives in Kaipara District and there is not a moment to be lost, because while we re-traverse ground we’ve already covered, the day is getting nearer when government will say, ‘put your pens down Kaipara District Council. You’ve taken too long, we’re doing away with district plans’.
“There is real risk in delay. Members of our communities are already commenting on parts of plan they are not satisfied with, which is great to see.
“I’m sad to see a delay. Nevertheless, that is the position I feel is the best way forward because of the disquiet among some elected members.”
Cr Peter Wethey said it was important to have an extra briefing to discuss issues where there was not a common view, or where views put forward at earlier meetings had not been incorporated in the plan.
“At a lot of briefings we have been given a lot of information by staff but haven’t had the freedom to discuss it in a constructive manner,” he said. “I feel we’ve been constrained. We need a more active debate so we can come up with some consensus.”
Cr David Wills agreed.
“There is frustration that we have been presented with an outcome, where it has been hard to have compromise or realistic change, particularly around subdivision rules as they are presented,” he said.
Cr Victoria Del La Varis-Woodcock was upset her dark skies protection idea had not been supported.
She wanted the draft plan released for consultation.
“The District Plan is about all the people out there, not the people around this table,” she said. “We’ve spent nearly $1 million on preparing this plan, it is time to let ratepayers get their teeth into it.”
Cr Eryn Wilson-Collins likened the delay to a theatre performance being cancelled at dress rehearsal.
Concern was raised about the planning process in a local government election year.
Engagement and transformation general manager Jason Marris the plan was a longstanding process, so could continue, but staff would be careful to ensure engagement was concluded prior to the September/October election period.
Formal notification of the plan, after any amendments as a result of informal feedback, would be targeted for April next year.
The E-plan which was on the Council website has now been taken down while elected members review portions of it.
Council says a further date for consultation will be notified as soon as possible.