Coastal hazard submitters to get extra month and independent commissioners

Thursday 31 January 2013

The deadline for submissions on coastal hazard provisions in the Proposed District Plan has been extended by a month to give affected property owners more time to prepare.

The decision to move the deadline from 1 March to 2 April was made at a full meeting of Council yesterday. The meeting also approved the use of independent commissioners for the hearing process related to Chapter 4 of the Proposed District Plan, covering coastal hazards.

Mayor Jenny Rowan was absent from yesterday's meeting but early this week said Council was considering the recommendations to remove any suggestion the process was not "fair and equitable".

The issue sparked a short debate during which a recommendation was made to delay submissions on the entire District Plan. Council finally voted to extend the deadline for submissions relating to Coastal Hazard provisions only. The recommendation to appoint independent Commissioners to preside over hearings on coastal hazard information was also passed.

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. "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."

He said timeframes were set by the Resource Management Act (RMA) and Council had already added two weeks more than what was legally required to the timeframe 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, 1 March. A decision will be made later on whether to use independent commissioners for these hearings.

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