How I Sometimes Occupy My Days … Resource Consent Hearings!

Actually, I haven’t had to do it too often, but I do find myself on a lot of hearings for new by-laws, District Plan changes, swimming pool fencing exemption hearings and even appeals against menacing dog classifications.

Resource consent hearings occur when someone wants to do something that is contrary to the District Plan and the council staff deem it to be a major-enough matter for the public to be notified and for people to be given a chance to be heard.  Often they are heard by a panel of three councillors but if the matter is really high-stakes, an outside commissioner will be appointed.

An example of an outside commissioner being used is for the forthcoming Countdown Supermarket hearing for Ivory Street, Rangiora.  This is supposed to have been heard by now, but the supermarket people have asked for a delay because the council planning officer has recommended against it being approved and they want to think a bit more about this.

In the last two days, I have been on hearing panels considering an application for a child-care centre in Woodend (with Dan Gordon and Roger Blair) and for approval to build a house on a lot of less than 4 hectares in Okuku (with Robbie Brine and Dan Gordon).  The former isn’t finished yet.

Often these decisions are not easy. There are a few things worth remembering, however.

  • The decision has to consider the Waimakariri District Plan and the Resource Management Act.
  • It’s not a numbers game.  The quality of the submissions and their relevance to the District Plan and the Act are more important than the number of people on one side or the other.
  • The first duty of a council planning officer is to consider the District Plan and the RMA. The panel or the commissioner will not necessarlity follow his or her advice.
  • The panel or the commissioner may have to consider whether granting consent will create a precedent elsewhere in the District.
  • Once a decision is made, it becomes the council’s decision.

There’s a lot more, but that will do for now!

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