‘Interested parties’ the new planning buzz words?

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    Former chairman Paul Walden took two months leave of absence from the Waiheke Local Board in late August in order to prepare his defence against five charges brought against him by the Auckland Council which alleges illegal work on his View Road property.

    Mr Walden maintains the earthworks were to mitigate the impacts of storm water dumping from the Council’s roadside drains.

    One of the consequences if the council’s charges are upheld in the court case (now due to start in mid October) is that Mr Walden could be disqualified from continuing to serve on the Local Board.

    The council has defended its action on the grounds of ‘multiple offending’ and I have included the charges here, since Council executive officer Stephen Town has told us  – including our somewhat appalled elected councillor -– that Mr Walden has been treated “no differently to any other ratepayer”.

    Which is chilling if you consider that one of the allegations is “carrying out building work including fitting insulation and installing sanitary fixtures”. The others are “changing the use of a building in a natural hazard area” [whatever that may be]; “failing to tell Council of a change of use (specifically from storage to residential)”; “unconsented earthworks in a natural hazard area” and “earthworks under the drip line of a native tree”.

    For this enforcement, Auckland Council appears to have a capacity for bottomless expenditure, high priced lawyers and Court time.

    Also for continuing council reports to elected board members responsible to the public for their decisions.

    The Onetangi Reserve issue has already been canvassed by the board which, at its July meeting (and with Mr Walden present) resolved that hearings for the controversial Onetangi Reserve Management Plan would be dealt with by the whole local board and that members were committed to a robust outcome that everyone could live with.

    With a proposal to remove two members back on this week’s September agenda, Mr Walden submitted the following letter for publication.

    Letter to the Editor

    “We deserve a fair shot as a community at planning the future of our largest community recreational asset at the Onetangi Reserve.

    “The Minister of Conservation has directed Auckland Council to develop a reserve management plan for this land.

    “This is the responsibility of the Waiheke Local Board.

    “This Thursday, the Local Board are voting on a report to reconfigure the democratic decision-making body to consult the community and hear submissions with respect to this plan.

    “Citing conflicts of interest, the decision report proposes removing two board members, Bob Upchurch and myself, from the process. Bob is a longstanding member of the community and golf club and former president there, well respected for his passion and energy for our community.

    “I grew up adjacent to the reserve and have been an advocate for proper inclusive lawful process in developing the reserve including protecting its now rare wetland systems and also ensuring that as a community we can enjoy our reserve.

    “These changes are proposed on the basis that the new make up will be supported by interested parties.

    The only requests for a change to the make up that I am aware of come from individuals representing the Waiheke Golf Club.

    The Waiheke Golf Club have made two recent submissions to the Local Board at public forum at which they have articulated a preference as to constitution of decision making body based on the likelihood of the body supporting their 18 hole course development plans.

    “I maintain that these decisions belong with those we elect as a community.

    “I have offered – in favour of preserving Mr Upchurch’s involvement – to stand aside if the board co-opt Councillor Mike Lee to take my place. Seemingly this too doesn’t sit well with the ‘interested parties’.

    “As Council embarks on what is increasingly looking like a fait accompli management planning process which, based on previous experience, will consider environmental and broader community outcomes as second order, the community must be prepared to stand up and ensure that whomever the decision makers are that they are not left wondering where our values lie as a community when it comes to protecting our natural environmental features and wetlands. 

    Or what our expectations are with respect to inclusive public process and outcomes including access to our precious recreation space which we have brought and paid for as a community.”

    Paul Walden, Waiheke Local Board member.

    Mr Walden and Mr Upchurch have respectively topped the poll in the last two local government elections on Waiheke. The Onetangi Reserve issue was publicly canvassed each time.

    Public satisfaction with Mr Walden’s chairmanship of the local board team was also affirmed by a recent Council survey of residents which rated the board’s understanding and advocacy for local issues at 68 percent.  Auckland Council and Auckland Transport had a lot of room for improvement at a mere nine percent.

    • Liz Waters

     

    The council has defended its action on the grounds of ‘multiple offending’ and I have included the charges here, since Council executive officer Stephen Town has told us  – including our somewhat appalled elected councillor -– that Mr Walden has been treated “no differently to any other ratepayer”.

    Which is chilling if you consider that one of the allegations is “carrying out building work including fitting insulation and installing sanitary fixtures”. The others are “changing the use of a building in a natural hazard area” [whatever that may be]; “failing to tell Council of a change of use (specifically from storage to residential)”; “unconsented earthworks in a natural hazard area” and “earthworks under the drip line of a native tree”.

    For this enforcement, Auckland Council appears to have a capacity for bottomless expenditure, high priced lawyers and Court time.

    Also for continuing council reports to elected board members responsible to the public for their decisions.

    The Onetangi Reserve issue has already been canvassed by the board which, at its July meeting (and with Mr Walden present) resolved that hearings for the controversial Onetangi Reserve Management Plan would be dealt with by the whole local board and that members were committed to a robust outcome that everyone could live with.

    With a proposal to remove two members back on this week’s September agenda, Mr Walden submitted the following letter for publication.

    Letter to the Editor

    “We deserve a fair shot as a community at planning the future of our largest community recreational asset at the Onetangi Reserve.

    “The Minister of Conservation has directed Auckland Council to develop a reserve management plan for this land.

    “This is the responsibility of the Waiheke Local Board.

    “This Thursday, the Local Board are voting on a report to reconfigure the democratic decision-making body to consult the community and hear submissions with respect to this plan.

    “Citing conflicts of interest, the decision report proposes removing two board members, Bob Upchurch and myself, from the process. Bob is a longstanding member of the community and golf club and former president there, well respected for his passion and energy for our community.

    “I grew up adjacent to the reserve and have been an advocate for proper inclusive lawful process in developing the reserve including protecting its now rare wetland systems and also ensuring that as a community we can enjoy our reserve.

    “These changes are proposed on the basis that the new make up will be supported by interested parties.

    The only requests for a change to the make up that I am aware of come from individuals representing the Waiheke Golf Club.

    The Waiheke Golf Club have made two recent submissions to the Local Board at public forum at which they have articulated a preference as to constitution of decision making body based on the likelihood of the body supporting their 18 hole course development plans.

    “I maintain that these decisions belong with those we elect as a community.

    “I have offered – in favour of preserving Mr Upchurch’s involvement – to stand aside if the board co-opt Councillor Mike Lee to take my place. Seemingly this too doesn’t sit well with the ‘interested parties’.

    “As Council embarks on what is increasingly looking like a fait accompli management planning process which, based on previous experience, will consider environmental and broader community outcomes as second order, the community must be prepared to stand up and ensure that whomever the decision makers are that they are not left wondering where our values lie as a community when it comes to protecting our natural environmental features and wetlands. 

    Or what our expectations are with respect to inclusive public process and outcomes including access to our precious recreation space which we have brought and paid for as a community.”

    Paul Walden, Waiheke Local Board member.

    Mr Walden and Mr Upchurch have respectively topped the poll in the last two local government elections on Waiheke. The Onetangi Reserve issue was publicly canvassed each time.

    Public satisfaction with Mr Walden’s chairmanship of the local board team was also affirmed by a recent Council survey of residents which rated the board’s understanding and advocacy for local issues at 68 percent.  Auckland Council and Auckland Transport had a lot of room for improvement at a mere nine percent.

    • Liz Waters

     

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