Judge’s KCDC Verdict

Rough Seas 3Judge raps KCDC over ‘simplistic’ coastal hazard lines

— but gives OK to initial LIM action

By Alan Tristram

A High Court judge has ruled the Kapiti Coast Council had to put coastal hazard information on Land Information Memorandums (LIMs), but he severely castigates the Council for the way they did it.

Judge Joe Williams says the hazard lines the Council put on maps were too ‘simplistic’ and had the potential put to cut the value of sea-side houses.

In a just-released, interim decision, Judge Joe Williams says under Section 44A(2)(a) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, 1987, the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) had no choice but to note coastal hazard information, contained in the Shand Report, on LIMs.

However the judge was critical of Council’s actions in expressing the hazard information relating to coastal properties in the district on LIMs as lines on coastal maps.

He said the lines were ‘starkly simplistic’ as a summary of the complex Shand information and ‘have the potential to seriously affect the value and marketability of coast properties.’

Reaction from Mayor Church

Kapiti Coast Mayor Ross Church says the judgement on matters of law is welcome.

He says: “Our legal advice was that if Council held any information about a potential hazard, affecting a particular property, we were legally bound to alert prospective purchasers by noting that on any LIM requested for the property.  This judgement says our interpretation of the law was correct.”

The judge’s findings were in response to an application for a judicial review, lodged earlier this year by Peka Peka residents Mike and Veronica Weir.

Judge Williams found that Council had no discretion as to whether it put known hazard risk information on LIMs, if it was to comply with the law and fulfil its obligations to “warn the market about the potential local effects of a global phenomenon.”

The interim decision by Judge Williams makes no mention of costs and recommends the parties reconvene in the New Year “to consider amendments to LIMs to ensure clarity fairness and balance”.