The engineering services meeting was held on 5 November 2015. Apologies were received from Cr Canton, Higgins, and Edgar (with the mayor arriving late). All other councillors were present.
The agenda included: (1) chair’s report, (2) Wakefield development water development contribution, and (3) engineering activity report. A late in-committee (confidential) report was also received in relation to shared landfill services (York valley). There were two items in public forum.
Given the agenda was somewhat brief, I decided to ask a number of questions throughout the meeting. Much to the frustration of the chair (Cr Norris).
Graeme Thomas, speaking on behalf of Richard Martin (property developer), spoke about his clients concerns with the Ben Nevis development in Wakefield. He raised a number of concerns that I will discuss below. He asked that the land be excluded from the contributions, or the development contribution be deferred until connection.
Martin Barlow spoke on behalf of the Mapua Boat Club. He raised concerns about the restricted access to the Mapua boat ramp. He thought the mayor had supported a range of solutions the club had offered. Yet none appear to have been implemented? Without access, they would be the only boat club in NZ without a boat ramp. They acknowledged the tension with health and safety issues (regarding public walking in the area vs cars and boats), but wanted a solution for the summer period.
The brief report (a page of text) mentioned the pending draft speed bylaw review and the relationship with the NZTA’s speed management guide. Staff advised that the NZTA guide would have little impact on the review.
The report also mentioned joint land development manual initiative between Nelson and Tasman councils. This is an important initiative for ensuring the two councils better align. I asked the chair if a little more detail could be provided around the joint land development manual given its importance – perhaps including an update on progress, topics covered, or tension points. The chair refused, becoming very upset with my request. As I expected he would. However, I think its important council are kept abreast of developments rather than wait for a staff report at the end of the process. Its about being kept informed, so we can keep our residents informed.
Finally, my family want to share their sincere condolences with the family and friends of Paul Bennett (skipper), Jared Reese (Timaru), and Terry Donald Booth (Ruby Bay), who lost their lives at sea off the Canterbury coast on the FV Jubilee. Coming from a fishing family we are very aware of the risks of this type of work (as were they). These were three very experienced fishermen who were well known in their community. They will be missed.
Wakefield development water development contribution
This issue was discussed in public forum. Essentially, it concerned the charging of a water development contributions on a property development (known as Ben Nevis) comprising 100 lots located in the Wakefield area. The developer has been responsible for other property developments bordering this development.
The developer is installing “dry” pipes (for a future water reticulation system) as the development progresses. An extension of the reticulated water supply is planned to service this land in 2021-24 (according to the 2015 Long Term Plan (LTP). This was illustrated in one of the maps enclosed in the LTP set of documents. Until the site is reticulated, the developer is required to provide for on-site water collection, storage and treatment (as a condition of the developments approval). Generally, payment of development contributions is due when the development plans are approved. The contributions are a partial contribution to the cost of planned water infrastructure.
The developer raised two main issues (notification failure and a double up of water costs) to support his request for the development contribution to be deferred until connection.
The applicant argued that the council failed to notify the developer of any development contribution liability. He was unable to find any public notification or any information in the LTP. He also noted that an earlier adjacent development had not been subject to any contributions. Given his pre-existing relationship with council in relation to an earlier adjacent development, he thought he should have been advised of a change.
In response staff, acknowledged and apologised for failing to inform the developer of the plan change that created a new liability for development contributions. The issue would be addressed so that it would not happen again. However, the plan change (and corresponding development contribution) had been notified through the LTP process and therefore it was legally enforceable.
In response to questions raised during public forum, I asked staff to inform the developer of the location of the relevant plan changes in the LTP. Which staff confirmed they would do.
Cost double up
The applicant argued that the imposition of development contributions, as well as requiring the developer to provide an on-site water supply, placed a heavy financial burden on the developer, making it uneconomic to continue to lay dry pipes. This would mean that the council would have to dig up the road at a future date and lay pipes for the future water reticulation system. Again a way forward was to defer the imposition of development levies until the planned reticulation system was connected sometime in 2021-24.
This would mean that liability for the development contribution would lay with the property owner at the time of connection. However, owners could still opt not to connect. If an owner choose not to connect they would still be liable for the daily water charges (ie pipe maintenance costs), but not the water charges (as they would not be receiving water).
Council unanimously agreed that the development contribution would be imposed on connection. In my opinion, deferring the imposition of development contributions was the most pragmatic solution. This enabled the development to continue and for council to receive development contributions for infrastructure.
Engineering activity report
The manager’s report contained the following highlights:
- Financials: I asked two questions. First, if the over spend in the transportation budget (ie operating expenses) was a timing issue (or not). Staff confirmed it was a timing issue. Second, if the financials could provide a similar level of analysis contained in the environment and planing (E&P) reports. The E&P reports provided detailed analysis of staff and contractor costs. Whereas, engineering did not. The question was put to other councillors. Unfortunately, I received no support from other councillors for more detailed analysis.
- Health and safety: MWH and TDC managers are developing a safety training workshop for constructions site visits. Cr Mirfin questioned (rather rhetorically) whether this was at all necessary and wondered whether it bordered on over-kill. Especially as there had been no incidents to date in relation to on-site visits? Unfortunately the HSE Act imposes a number of obligations on council. Failure to show we have provided sufficient H&S training could expose council to potential liability should an incident occur. Effectively, training is a form of insurance against potential liability.
- Parking strategy: A consultant (traffic design group) has been contracted to conduct dta collection and aid in development of a parking strategy. A final draft report has been presented to staff and a workshop for councillors is planned for early 2016. Public consultation is expected around March 2016. I will be watching this with interest. In my opinion, we need to be ensuring new commercial developments are providing more car parks (including under or within the development itself), as well as utilising areas on the fringes of the CBD, rather than widening roads for parking (at cot to the ratepayers). For example, Club Waimea have a large carpark that is under utilised throughout the day. Enabling them to promote a fee based carpark service would take the pressure off parking in other parts of Richmond. A similar arrangement could be developed as an income stream for A&P Society land. These areas could also be supported by a connecting bus service.
- Digital systems (Confirm and Tardis): The “confirm” (asset) database has been altered to make it easier to operate (including a shift from printed reports to PDF reports). The “tracking and reporting of development information system” (TARDIS) is a web based multi-purpose relational database. It was developed in-house and is used for tracking subdivision and planning documents and was introduced to the resource consents team as a collaborative development. I asked that staff liaise with Nelson council when these opportunities arise in order to share and leverage technology. We should be aiming to align the same systems and processes in both councils to maximise cost savings and efficiency gains. There is no point reinventing the wheel.
- New Richmond South developments: A request to relocate a storm water designation in Richmond South was received. I asked what this meant. Staff advised the request sought to divert storm water further south (along the bottom of the hill crest, parrallel to Harts Road). Land either side of Patons Road and Bateup Road has had its deferrment lifted, allowing development of 250 sections over the next couple of years. At the same time Bateup Road is being investigated for road improvements (for increased traffic), including under-grounding stormwater and road widening. I suggested to staff that any road improvements should give serious consideration to secondary flow paths (similar to the proposed inversion of Queen Street) as the Paton\Bateup Road was one of the 5 flooding hotspots in the 2011 and 2013 floods.
- Fairise Drive development: Around 20 lots are nearing completion at the end of Fairise Drive. A new pedestrian connection will be provided from Hill Street into the new cul-de-sac. Lots adjoining Hill Street will direct storm water into Harts creek. Storm water from other lots in this development are to be piped via a detention pond. I asked staff (after the meeting) to provide me a detailed briefing so that I could keep downstream residents informed of planned developments.
- Hill Street and Harts Road development: A proposed 33 lot development at the corner of these roads has been lodged with council for consideration.
- Mapua water network: Major breaks on the Mapua water network have recently occurred. Staff are investigating and will be making a recommendation on the likely timing of an upgrade. Most likely bringing forward the planned upgrade in the LTP.
- Waste: Recycling volumes continue to grow (23% up on the July to September period last year). This means less pressure on landfill. Landfill operations have focused on excavating cover material from on-site, and developing the next cell for refuse. Landfill volumes (for July to September) were 2% above budget.
- LED lights: A total of 512 of 2400 lights (21%) have been converted to date.
- School speed zones: 40km\hr advisory speed signs will be installed at 29 (of 36) schools. Priority will be given to 11 schools (Ranzau, Hope, Dovedale, Motueka Rudolf Steiner, Ngatimoti, Lower Moutere, Motupipi, Centrl Takaka, Brooklyn, Mapua, and Mahana) who either have no crossroads, are near high speed areas, and have no parking to drop children off. The other 7 schools are either on state highways (NZTA responsibility) or urban environments (low speed areas) where additional signage might be considered a hindrance to visibility. NZTA will be investigating use of 40km\hr signs for schools on state highways.
- Rivers: Increased fly tipping (rubbish dumping) has been observed near the Waimea. River tracks between Appleby bridge and lower Queen Street may have to be closed (after the white bait season ends) to mitigate the increase.
I also asked for an update on the interim lower Moutere speed signage (discussed at the last meeting in relation to proposed footpaths). Staff advised that the speed signage had experienced a few glitches in providing data on road usage. It was hoped this would be available for the next meeting.
I also passed on an observation from a resident that the traffic lights in gladstone road were not sympathetic to motorcycles – and that this meant sometimes cycles had to run a red light to get across the road.
Unfortunately, the chair (Cr Norris) became quite upset with me asking so many questions during consideration of this report. He suggested that rather than ask questions in public, I should direct them to staff after the meeting. I disagreed and was not going to be intimidated by his bullying tactics. In my opinion, it was important questions were asked in public, so they could be minuted. Furthermore, preventing questions being asked, undermined the need for the meeting in the first place. I certainly do not consider my presence at council meetings to be a rubber stamping (or attendance) exercise.
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/.
The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 10 April 2014. Apologies were received from Crs King, Norriss, Sangster, Mirfin, and myself.
Key points of interest
The agenda and staff reports drew attention to a number of developments. The main points of interest are listed below.
- Building consents are up 107% on the previous year. Building consent statistics are contained in the Agenda (p 17).
- The TDC has received e-accreditation as a Building Consent Authority. On 7 April electronic processing came on line and is expected to improve the building and consent teams performance. Work continues with the NCC building department to develop a relationship which will allow us to work more closely. A 1⁄2 FTE in the administration area of the building and consents team was requested due to changes to the Building Act (eg collection and collation of information relating to Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) and management of associated Records of Work). As noted in an earlier post, I was of the opinion that council should not have approved this appointment and instead directed staff management to redeploy resources to provide any necessary support. My opinion has not changed. Interestingly, at the time staff requested approval for the ½ FTE, a great deal of weight was placed on the position improving revenue opportunities for the building consents team, rather than fulfilling legislative requirements.
- The transition from the Sale of Liquor Act to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act (SSAA) has been completed. TDC was one of the first councils (together with Waimakariri DC) to have a Provisional Local Alcohol Policy in place. The District Licensing Committee (DLC) has been established and its members trained. TDC’s alcohol webpage has been overhauled and now fully set up as a one-stop shop for all alcohol licensing information and applications. A new facility for public notification of alcohol license applications (and objections) is now available on TDC’s webpage. This is expected to save applicants about $400-$500 per application.
- Dog and stock control areas of the department are functioning well. Three prosecutions have been brought over the period with successful outcomes. For the 2013-14 year, a total of 10,300 dogs were identified in the region, including 24 dogs requiring registration (ie unregistered). A total of 376 infringement notices were issued with 102 proceeding to court.
- A minor fuel oil spill (believed to be less than 200l) occurred at Port Motueka on 20 January 2014. The Regional on Scene Commander (ROSC) after receiving reports from the site and consulting with Maritime NZ deemed that no further action was necessary.
- Ongoing issues with Rockville and Onekaka motocross noise continues to be monitored. Enforcement action has been taken recently against a noisy neighbour in Mapua which resulted in a $750 fine being issued.
- There were 347 inspections of food premises have been undertaken over the period.
- Outstanding parking infringements (processed by court) total $77,413. Detailed analysis of parking infringement statistics can be found in the agenda. Parking compliance is currently 80%. Risk areas Talbot Street (74%) and Petrie park (45%) are being monitored.
- The TDC Harbourmaster has resigned and recruitment has begun.
Staff also provided an updated environmental policy programme and projects, updated to current 2014 targets, and including projects not yet started or paused. A full list of these projects can be found in the agenda (pp 29 to 39).
From 12 September 2014, councillors are required by law (under s 39B of the RMA) to be accredited (under s 39B of the RMA) by way of holding a relevant “commissioner” qualification (provided through the Ministry for the Environment’s “making good decisions” programme) if they are to sit on any planning hearings, consent applications, or notices of requirement. The cost of obtaining this accreditation (and attending relevant training courses) is paid for by the council (and ratepayers).
I recently attended this two day course during April and successfully completed the two written assessments – obtaining a “merit” distinction overall.
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2014/2014-04-10.
Enclosed below are questions from the Waimea Weekly and the answers I provided. No word limits were specified.
Why are you the best person for this job?
A strong council needs a good mix of skills. No one else standing for the Tasman District Council brings to the Council table the skills of a tax lawyer and adjudicator. I also have over 18 years of business experience working in the private and public sectors. I have worked for major multi-national corporations (Thomson Reuters) and large public institutions (the Office of the Chief Tax Counsel). More recently I have been helping residents prepare submissions against a proposed development in the Richmond South area. I am passionate, positive, honest, fair, a hard and tireless worker (with a good sense of humour), and someone you can trust. I am experienced in listening to people of all walks of life, asking the hard questions, and resolving complex issues. I am not afraid to speak up, and can be pragmatic when the occasion calls for it. My former customers for over 18 years considered me someone they could trust to do the right thing, and deliver on my promises. I have always aimed to exceed expectations in whatever I set my mind too. This year you get the benefit of that experience and passion.
Dedicating enough time to your role on council is vital to your success in being effective as a councilor. What others jobs/roles do you hold that takes up your time?
As mentioned above, I am legally qualified. As I undertake work on a contract basis, my time is very flexible. If elected, I will be ensuring my time working for the community, as a councilor, comes first.
Several of you live outside the ward you are standing in, do you think candidates should live in the ward they wish to represent and why?
During my campaign I have walked around a lot of Richmond and have spoken to a lot of people from all walks of life. If I did not reside in the Richmond ward, I think I would have found that task much harder to do. It’s about engagement with, and advocacy for, the ward you represent. I consider I bring those skills to the Council table for the Richmond Ward.
Do you think car parking in Richmond should remain free?
Yes. Absolutely!! It’s what the Richmond community want. It’s just a pity the current council did not recommend that Kmart Plaza and the Warehouse provide ground level parking under their buildings. Would have been great for rainy days!
Do you support the Lee Valley Dam project?
The Dam project is about securing the supply of an increasingly valuable resource: water. It also avoids potential saltwater intrusion and allows sustainable use of the resource. I support securing our ongoing supply of quality water for the region. How large any storage facility will be, and whether it includes weirs or not, will depend very much on how much we can afford. As I said at the Lee Valley Dam meeting a few weeks ago, and repeated by others, the elephant in the room is funding. In terms of funding I come back to the principle of “equity”. Those who benefit should contribute to its cost.
That said, the TDC does have forestry assets, so perhaps it’s time to decide what we want: – trees or water? And perhaps it’s also time to tap into the Government’s asset sales funds? After all, isn’t this the reason for asset sales in the first place? If the outcome of the Ruataniwha dam proposal in Hawkes Bay is of national significance, why can’t the Lee Valley Dam also be of national significance. After all, the Waimea plains generate a lot of income for the region. Perhaps it’s timely for the Council to begin some lobbying?
What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the council and its ratepayers?
Ensuring our money is spent on the important stuff first. And that means infrastructure – like proper storm water systems that work. Weighed against those priorities (including a dam) is debt. The council needs to stop being a bank for every cause. If it can do that sensibly, then it should be able to get on top of debt (and planned increases in debt). It’s about priorities and sensible spending.
Who are you backing for mayor?
As a new candidate, I will work constructively with whomever the community elect as mayor. That said, I am about influencing “change” in council decision making for better community outcomes.