Council Blinks on Coastal Hazards

Protesters win more time for submissions + independent commissioners

By Alan Tristram

In the face of massive protests from Kāpiti Coast residents, the local council (KCDC) has agreed to allow another month for submissions on coastal hazard provisions in the Proposed District Plan.

And the Kāpiti Council also agreed to get independent commissioners for the part of the District Plan dealing with coastal hazards (Chapter 4).

The decision to move the deadline from 1 March to 2 April for coastal submissions was made at a full meeting of Council.

The moves follows pressure from a large number of residents under the banner Coastal Ratepayers United who were incensed  by the Council’s decision to impose ‘hazard lines’ affecting about 1800 property owners.

The residents said restrictions on their properties had been put on LIM reports without adequate notice or consultation .

The council and  Coastal Ratepayers United have been taking out full-page advertisements in local newspapers to press their cases and an earlier council meeting erupted in a shouting match on  the issue.

The latest meeting was more peaceful. Mayor Jenny Rowan was absent, but earlier in the week she said Council had been considering the recommendations to remove any suggestion the process was not ‘fair and equitable.’

The issue raised a debate during which a recommendation was made to delay submissions on the entire District Plan. But Council finally voted to extend the deadline only for submissions relating to Coastal Hazards.

And Council also passed the recommendation to appoint independent Commissioners to preside over hearings on coastal hazard information.

It was noted during the debate that Council had been working on the District Plan review since 2009, had produced public discussion documents and held 36 workshops open to the public.

Chief Executive Pat Dougherty told the meeting the entire District Plan Review process is about consultation.

He said: “We [Council] advertise the District Plan, we call for submissions, we read those submissions, we advertise those submissions and then we call for cross submissions on those submissions.

“We then try to address concerns by getting experts together to resolve any disagreements before we go to hearings.

“The hearings’ commissioners then hear further information and evidence and then make a decision.  This is the most comprehensive consultation process there is in local government,” Mr Dougherty said.

He said time-frames were set by the Resource Management Act (RMA) — and Council had already added two weeks more than what was legally required to the time-frame for submissions.

“Delaying the entire district plan process by extending the consultation period for all parts would increase costs and may put the entire process at risk, putting more costs on to ratepayers.”

While the deadline for submissions on coastal hazard provisions has been extended to 2 April, submissions on other sections of the proposed District Plan still need to be in by 4pm, March 1.

A KCDC statement says a decision will be made later on whether to use independent commissioners for these hearings.