Hibiscus Matters letters - November 4, 2020
Council should decide
Pauline Morgan, Orewa
Can someone please explain to me how an independent commissioner can override the Auckland Council's recommendation not to build a retirement village with the potential for 900 residents near Small Rd? I thought the Council had the last say as they have been democratically elected by the ratepayers affected. In my opinion this will cause catastrophic traffic issues for the area, which already has a large volume of traffic and will only financially benefit the retirement village itself and not the Hibiscus Coast as a whole.
Editor's note: In general, retirement villages are seen as places where traffic movements are low. However, this one does also have a childcare centre so things could get busy in the rush hour as children are dropped off and collected. Time will tell. Re the commissioners, see the response below.
Dean Tatro, Orewa (abridged)
Read the article about Coast's biggest village (HM October 14). To me it's odd that the council said ‘no, too much traffic, not room for industry', etc. But the independent commissioners gave the go ahead. So do we have a democracy? I tried to find how the commissioners were appointed but could not find any info online. Was this commission set up by the Crown or by Auckland? Who pays for the commission? Auckland ratepayers or the Crown? So why do we elect officials through our elections if the will of the people representing us is overturned by unelected commissioners?
Auckland Council's resource consents north manager, Ian Dobson, responds: The Council planner provides a recommendation to the independent commissioners ahead of the resource consent hearing. The recommendation, to grant or decline the consent, is based on the planner's assessment of the proposal against relevant planning rules. The commissioners' role is to make the final decision on the application based on all the evidence presented during the hearing. This includes evidence from council's planner, the applicant, members of the public who have made submissions, relevant specialists and experts. Commissioners are engaged by council but their decision is independent. It is relatively common for the commissioner to arrive at a different professional opinion, however decisions are often delivered with a set of conditions that address any concerns the commissioner has. There is an application process to become listed as a commissioner. Each applicant is interviewed by a panel consisting of a councillor, member of the Independent Maori Statutory Board, and senior management for suitability, experience, etc. If selected, and confirmed by the Council's governing body, they are then added to the commissioner list.