The Hastings Development & Environment Committee last week appointed four independent commissioners to hear submissions on proposed Ocean Beach development.
Hearing dates from October 28 through November 19, 2008 have been set aside.
The commissioners will be:
- Doug Arcus (Chairman, with a casting vote) — solicitor with 40+ years experience specialising in Environmental Law. Also served as Chair of panel that considered HDC’s large-format retail hearing in 2005.
- Alan Watson — a 30+ year planner who also sat on the large-format retail hearing. More recently has chaired hearings for HDC on the Northern Arterial Road and on Percival Road/Sports Park (where a decision is expected this week). He also acted as a sole commissioner on the Ngatarawa/HB Golf Club resource consent, where his decision favoring the development was recently overturned by the Environment Court.
- Rauru Kirikiri — a consultant on Maori issues to several government ministries and agencies (Foreign Affairs and Trade, Maori Affairs, State Services, Landcare Research). Locally, Mr. Kirikiri has acted as a commissioner for the HB Regional Council and for the HDC panel on the Northern Arterial Road.
- Mary Buckland — with 30 years experience as a landscape architect, she has been responsible for a number of coastal landscape assessments, predominantly in the Auckland region but also in the Marlborough Sounds. Ms. Buckland has not acted as a hearings commissioner for HDC, but was engaged by Council to peer review landscape evidence related to the Unison windfarm hearing.
Officially Plan Change 45, the proposal envisioned by Andy Lowe’s Hill Country would involve construction of more than 1,000 homes and associated infrastructure at Ocean Beach.
Plan Change 45 drew 208 submissions … only 23 supported the planned development. MWH Consultants have been tasked with independently assessing the application on behalf of Hastings Council and preparing the hearings report required by the Resource Management Act.
As we previously reported, Hill Country has been quite busy itself out at Ocean Beach, constructing an extensive network of roads on the land at issue, including land in a “Rural Conservation Zone” that under their own proposal is supposed to be protected from development.
While the Ocean Beach matter is beyond the formal reach of HDC for the time being, we find it remarkable that Councillors haven’t expressed the slightest concern over Andy Lowe’s roadworks, given the sensitivities over the area.
Meantime, the next thing to watch for is MHW’s report on the private plan change application and submissions.