Notes from Council papers and key decisions on 5 December 20203
At the ordinary meeting of Ōpōtiki District Council on 5 December 2023, councillors briefly discussed the retirement of nine council policies, all superseded by changes in legislation or covered more broadly in other governance documents. This included policies such as the Sandwich Board Policy (now part of the signage bylaw), Street Naming Policy (superseded by the 2022 updated Road Naming Policy), and Interceptor Traps Policy (now part of the best practice guides used by the engineering and buildings teams).
The retired ‘youth policy’ was raised and Mayor Moore mentioned he wanted to make sure that there was still a mechanism in place to ensure youth voices were heard in council. He recognised that a policy document was not the best way to encourage that engagement and that Council’s significance and engagement policy highlights the need to ensure consultation with specific groups – rangatahi are specifically mentioned.
Councillors were also provided with an update on the earthquake prone buildings in the district. Background to council’s approach, changes to national legislation following the Christchurch earthquakes, and legislative deadlines are available on the council website.
Forty-one earthquake prone buildings have been identified within the Ōpōtiki District and thirty-five of these are on identified priority routes. Earthquake prone building notices have been sent to the owners of the properties identified and they have been uploaded onto the MBIE earthquake prone building register. Since that date, four properties have been removed from the register either because they have carried out the required strengthening work or an engineer’s assessment has been provided confirming the buildings are above 33%NBS.
The remaining owners have recently been sent reminder letters outlining their obligations and timeframe for compliance with national legislation. For most buildings in the Ōpōtiki district, the buildings must comply by 2029.
Councillors discussed the fast-approaching legislative deadlines. It was recommended that building owners, at a minimum, arrange an assessment so they understand the scope of works and repairs that would be needed.
The meeting also included an update on the Ōpōtiki town Centre revitalisation masterplan.
In 2021, council endorsed the Masterplan to provide a long-term vision for the town centre, using good urban design to revitalise the CBD, encourage people to visit and spend time, and to reflect the economic changes we are already seeing through the harbour and new industry. Some of the improvements and changes in the masterplan have already been funded through the Provincial Growth Fund.
Of the remaining actions in the masterplan, councillors decided the project priorities and funding. This included the (PGF funded) Elliott Street intersection upgrades which received a green light to go ahead and are fully externally funded. The upgrades and shared space on Church Street (shortfall funding required of $128,000) is for future consideration. The councillors also decided not to proceed with the Laneway Project – the pedestrian access next to Lots 9 and 10.
The report on how roaming horses in the district are managed was well received and there was some discussion of the persistent issues over many years. The report outlined the process and council decisions that had led to this point and the current policies and procedures in place. Planning and Regulatory Group Manager, Gerard McCormack, explained the bylaws and the current procedures for managing horse complaints.
Bylaws state that all horses in the town must be in a securely fenced paddock – they cannot be on council or public land (eg grass verges) and they cannot be tethered or roaming. They must also be on the horse register so that owners can be contacted if there are any issues. Stallions (except geldings) are prohibited from the township.
In the council meeting on Tuesday, Councillors said that the approach seemed to be working and were happy with the current state.
“At present Council does not have officers who are suitably qualified or trained to wrangle horses so they cannot be sent out to collect or impound them when we receive complaints. Where we have (or can get) a photo of the horse, we can check the owner register so that the owner can be contacted and come and take care of it. If we don’t know the owner, we can use the photos as evidence of repeat offenders. This can lead to ‘in place’ impoundment such as we did recently with ten horses whose owners were unknown so were advertised in the newspaper.
“Horses on the road or endangering drivers or others are referred to the Police,” Mr McCormack said.
Last year, Council received funding to complete a review of the current state of freedom camping in the district – current rules (locally and nationally), likely impact (positive and negative) and changes that might improve the situation. The in-depth report is a good insight into the current state of freedom camping in the district.
Councillors commented on the depth of the report and endorsed the approach recommended. They adopted the Freedom Camping Strategy and agreed to proceed with a review of the current bylaws to make sure they align with the new Strategy.
The full report is available in the Agenda on page 130.
Council offices - This report provided an overview of the work undertaken to date to identify options to address deficiencies with the Council office facility and sought Council’s endorsement to include the upgrade of Council’s operational facility at 108 St John Street in the 2024-34 Long Term Plan.
Councillors directed staff to utilise the existing budget allocation from the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan, noting this will not fully address all the issues with not capacity for growth, or improvements to the working environment for staff.
Snells Road– Councillors were asked to consider whether to proceed with the construction of the Snells Road dredge access ramp and car parking area. Councillors voted not to proceed with the community facilities at the end of Snell Road.
Hukutaia Growth area – Councillors agreed to continue with the plan change to extend the residential zone in Hukutaia. This will provide certainty for funders, reduces costs associated with any future changes in the area, it allows plenty of time for engagement and consultation with key stakeholders and landowners and it best matches the aspirations of mana whenua.
Harbour Access Road Project Funding – In the current LTP, the Harbour Access Road Project has a budget of $1.18M. However, due to considerations emerging during the design phase, the total project cost estimate has since increased to $3.29M.
Council has successfully secured additional funding from Waka Kotahi, covering 75% of the total project costs. Councillors endorsed the reallocation of $526,974 (25% contribution), from the Marine Precinct and Wharf Redevelopment budget to cover Council’s contribution.
Construction of Jetty extension and relocation of children’s playground -In September 2023, Council endorsed the updates to the Ōpōtiki Wharf Masterplan and Implementation plan. The implementation of the masterplan funding is identified in the long-term plan 2021-2031 and includes funding for construction of a jetty extension and relocation of children’s play equipment.
Councillors directed staff to continue with the resource consent application process for the jetty extension and relocation of the children’s play area, and to include an investigation into a jetty on the upstream side of the Coastguard building.
Waiotahe Drifts subdivision – issues with vehicles access to beach – dunes / safety / boardwalks etc– The report to council provided information on concerns raised by members of the community about the use of quad bikes within the Waiotahe Drifts subdivision. Several members of the public are concerned about quad bikes on boardwalks, private properties, and dunes, posing risks to pedestrian safety and the coastal ecosystem. Mr Ross Palmer also spoke during the public forum specifically about these concerns and illegal vehicle use.
Council directed staff to investigate options to provide legal vehicular access through the established boardwalk and to report back in 2024.