Tamahere Community Committee chairman Dallas Fisher has urged the Waikato District Council to be “commercially savvy” about the controversial Hart Rd homes being built by Chinese developer LV Park.
Hart Rd residents have raised concerns that eight massive houses being built on their road were intended to be used as hostel-type housing for Chinese students.
At its May meeting, the committee heard that the Hart Rd neighborhood group believed issues, including a potential overload of traffic, sewer and stormwater systems should be fully investigated rather than ignored by the council because the development met intended use criteria.
The developer has maintained the eight or nine bedroom houses are intended for large families.
Fisher said that the houses were within the building consent rules “but the council needs to be commercially savvy and if the developer won’t sign a statutory declaration [about their intended owner/occupants] then it is quite obvious that he is being dishonest.”
Flood risk confusion
The committee would like to see Land Information Memoranda (LIM reports) for some Tamahere properties temporarily amended to reflect the confused situation over their flood risk.
There was still considerable angst in the community about a Waikato District Council study of flood risk to properties in the Tamahere Country Living Zone released last July.
The council had felt an obligation to make that information public when it received it but had not felt similarly obliged to release a new, more comprehensive study, which provided dramatically different results, the committee heard.
The inaccurate, old maps were still on the LIMs and the committee felt they should be removed immediately.
Council representatives told the committee the council was considering options to inform property owners, including holding information days or writing to them with updated maps. Before it took either option the council proposed to hold a workshop with the committee and all those who had submitted on the matter under the district plan process to work through the updated maps.
The committee, which felt that the new flood risk report still contained inaccurate information, unanimously moved to request the council temporarily amend all LIMS of affected properties.
It suggested the wording on the LIMs read: “Property in our district will be affected by a 100 year rain event. Council has the results of modelling reports projecting possible effects. You should check the council’s records for this property to satisfy yourself as to the possible effects on this property.”
The committee urged both the regional and district councils to “scale up their monitoring” of Regal Haulage’s new workshop on its Airport Rd premises.
The committee said there was a view in the community “that they are breaking their consent every day they are using the building at the moment, with their doors being open while working in order to clear the fumes.
“This is totally unsatisfactory and driven by the fact that this was a non-notified consent, council need to scale up their monitoring of this site. The contaminants that are being generated through the building could be taken out through the air and finish up in the soil around the site.”
The committee had asked that the council obtain a baseline sample of surrounding soil so if there were future issues regarding toxins in the soil in the nearby recreational land “we don’t fall into the problem that no one takes responsibility.”
Council chief executive Gavin Ion told the committee that soil sampling was to be undertaken in the second week of May in the two, nearby council-owned properties.
The Waikato Regional Council had been contacted about air quality and had established that there was no breach of the regional rules, the committee heard.
The council had also made contact with Health and Safety officials who were also to undertake an inspection in May.
The committee commended the council on its efforts.
Expressway or no way
The NZ Transport Agency had “chosen to totally ignore” the fact that the proposed Waikato Expressway would sever links between east and west Tamahere, the committee said.
The committee asked for council support to work with NZTA to ensure east-west connectivity was maintained.
“NZTA have chosen to totally ignore the issue, because it is too expensive, or too hard,” the committee said, and it urged Mayor Allan Sanson to “advocate strongly on behalf of this community.”
The committee noted that it had been informed by letter from NZTA on April 24 this year that the East West link project was initiated by the council but that there had been no formal discussion about NZTA sharing the cost of the raods.
Tamahere ratepayers would find it unacceptable to have $3 million to $4 million added to their rates bills to fund local roads to link the areas bisected by the expressway, the committee said.
If its concerns were not addressed by NZTA the committee could oppose the expressway during the resource consent process but it preferred to try to work proactively with NZTA, it said.
Work on the restoration of the Tamahere Reserve is back on track after the voluntary conservation group became disheartened about being mired in bureaucracy in March.
The council had approved a process for getting quotes to remove the pines in the first basin, along Tauwhare Rd, project leader Leo Koppens told the committee.
“We were invited to a council workshop where this matter was discussed and passed by the full council, with one abstention,” Koppens said.
“We have had to come to terms with the fact that there will be mass destruction of a portion of this basin. Thirty-year-old tree ferns and Pate trees will be killed and the swale drains will be no more but there is no choice. We will remove all the plants planted last spring from this area.
Koppens said some of the volunteers were in the process of forming a trust, which would mean the group would be able to make funding applications for its work.
The group had a number of concerns about a proposed operational plan for the reserve prepared by the council, including that it was prepared without consultation with the group, which also believed the author had not even visited the site.
“We hope to meet with the council soon to try and make a plan that is acceptable to all,” said Koppens who reported that new plants in the reserve were “looking fantastic.”
The committee’s full minutes for each monthly meeting are available here.
The next meeting will be at 7.30pm, May 27 in the Tamahere Community Centre.