With consultation closing at the end of February, the Ōpōtiki Mayor, Lyn Riesterer wanted to encourage more feedback on the district's bylaws and dog policy because the rule changes would impact the community for many years to come.
"We have had very little feedback on our bylaw changes and the dog policy, yet I am sure that people have an opinion on these topics and when we start enforcing them, they'll certainly have an opinion then!
"Bylaws are rules made by local councils that influence what people can and can't do in the Ōpōtiki district. They exist so that we can make local decisions on local issues – to reduce things that are a nuisance or are unsafe or offensive but that don't break any laws. A good example is the local bylaw to stop people having roosters in town - no one wants them crowing at 5am right next to their window in an urban area! But that is an Ōpōtiki specific rule, not a national law.
"I realise that to some people, the wording sounds a little dull. Some of the changes are really just administrative and we have a good reason for changing them, but it won't effect people in their day to day lives. For example, we are deleting the clauses relating to fires in public places simply because all of those matters are now the responsibility of Fire and Emergency New Zealand and so we no longer need it in our bylaws.
"But not all the changes are like that. There are a few things that I think will be of interest to people such as the changes around where horse riding and vehicles will now be prohibited on beaches in the district, some stricter rules around animal control and an easing of rules around shop signage so they are more practical to use and enforce," Ms Riesterer said.
Ōpōtiki District Council must review the district's bylaws under the Local Government Act 2002. The Dog Control Policy has also been reviewed in accordance with section 10AA of the Dog Control Act 1996.
The changes to the rules around where beach vehicle access will be prohibited reflect changes in the national Coastal Policy Statement 2010 and Regional Council's (pre-operative) Coastal Environment Plan. Areas that have been recognised as Indigenous Bio-Diversity Areas including known dotteral breeding sites will now be protected from damage caused by horses and vehicles.
Although there are significant changes to the areas of the bylaw covering alcohol bans to better align with the requirements of national legislation, the actual areas covered are no different.
The Mayor encouraged people to scan through the bylaws and make sure they met their expectations for activities that Council could control.
"These are local bylaws that effect local people so please take a moment to have a look through the changes on the website and share your opinion on whether they are striking the right balance between preventing nuisance and allowing as much freedom as possible," Ms Riesterer said.
You can view a full copy of the draft proposed consolidated bylaw and dog control policy on the Bylaws Review page on this website.