Fire closes Countdown
Shoppers at both Countdown and Placemakers were evacuated on Monday afternoon as fire broke out at about 2.30pm at the supermarket end of the building. Emergency personnel were quickly on the scene as internal fire alarms were activated and acrid smoke drifted up over the building.
Four appliances attended and Northern fire communications spokesperson Megan Ruru told Gulf News that the fire was contained to a small upper-level cafeteria inside the building.
Fire personnel closed entry to the carpark and worked to damp down the pile of smoldering goods at the storage end of the building. Fire appliances were still on standby until at least 6pm and the extent of damage to the supermarket has yet to be determined.
It is the second time the supermarket has caught fire – the last time was in June 2009 when the (then Woolworths) supermarket remained closed for two weeks while repairs were carried out.
Oneroa Four Square owner Tim Baker says they have already ordered in extra stock to cater for additional demand while Countdown is closed to assess the damage. •
More in this week's edition of Gulf News, out Thursday
Christmas crunch for Matiatia marina submitters
A Council report on the proposal by a private developer to build a 160-berth marina in Matiatia Bay is due out this week – leaving submitters with a potentially tight pre-Christmas deadline to ensure they get a say when the issue goes to the Environment Court next year.
Once the report by Auckland Council officers is released, the developer, Waiheke Marinas (of which Church Bay resident Graham Guthrie is recorded as the sole shareholder), must decide within 10 working days whether to proceed directly to the Environment Court.
If it acts quickly to serve a Notice of Motion to the Court, the 15-day period allowed for submitters to file 274 notices allowing them to have their say in the court, could potentially expire on Friday 20 December – the start of the statutory Christmas break.
The timing adds another level of complexity to what is already a mammoth process, given the unprecedented level of community input.
The proposal attracted 809 submissions, the bulk of which oppose the siting of a marina in Matiatia Bay.
Auckland Council principal planner Veena Krishna says it is a huge exercise to get the report printed and distributed to all the submitters – although 100 have indicated they are happy to receive the information electronically.
Given that the process is on a collision course with Christmas, she points out that the statutory working days do not include the period between Friday 20 December and Friday 10 January.
Meanwhile, those opposing the marina are gearing up to ensure their voices are heard. Direction Waiheke chair Christine Gisby says it will be running workshops early next month to help submitters through the process of filing section 274 notices.
“It’s crucial that as many people as possible put one in.”
While people can choose to speak to their submissions in court, they are not obliged to, she says. “We can gather and consolidate our evidence and bring in experts who can stand and speak for us.”
A fighting fund established to help cover the cost of expert witnesses and legal representation is approaching the $30,000 mark and the group has already had preliminary talks with relevant experts, some of whom have offered their services for free.
A goal of $150,000 has been set for the fund and the group is confident it will reach that target. A series of fundraising events, including a ‘Love Matiatia’ concert to be held in Pie Melon Bay, has already been planned.
Right now, the ball is still in Mr Guthrie’s court, Ms Gisby says.
“This is an opportunity for him to really reconsider what he and his backers are doing. This is such a huge thing for Waiheke and there is so much passion around it. Because it’s the gateway to our island, it is something that affects us all. And they are taking from the whole community.
“Our stance is “Love Matiatia, let it be”. The developers can have their marina if they want it. But not at Matiatia.” • Vicki Jayne