Mexted finally pushes beach plan past rivals

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 06/06/2014

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Six years and a suspected arson after he first applied to subdivide his holiday property, former All Black Murray Mexted appears to have finally got it across the line.

Mexted and friends Paul Williams and Servass Van Breda Malherbe applied for resource consent for a six-lot subdivision at Mahanga Beach, near Mahia, in 2008.

Consents for the development, which was opposed by locals, were granted by the Wairoa District and Hawke's Bay regional councils in January 2010. Two months later, Mexted's bach on the Judges Parade property was burned down in a suspected arson.

An incorporated society named Mahanga E Tu (meaning stand up Mahanga) opposed the consents and appealed to the Environment Court.

The court has declined the appeal. In a ruling, Judge Craig Thompson said opposition to the application had not been resolved, despite the applicants making substantial amendments to their proposal.

The present application was to split two titles into five lots and did not include a previously proposed rock wall to prevent coastal erosion or proposed works in a stream bed which crosses the property.

The ruling states that any houses built on two lots nearest the coast must be relocatable and removed "if, or rather when" the sea reaches a point 7m from the house.

It was also proposed that a bond be provided in case the house owners were not prepared to move them when the time came. The judge felt this cost should not be borne by ratepayers.

He said methods for predicting shoreline retreat driven by sea-level rise "remain subject to considerable debate by coastal scientists generally, and this was amply evident in this case", but he settled on a likely average rate of 40cm a year.

At that rate, the most exposed lot would most likely need to be evacuated after about 20 years.

"Enjoyment of the developed property for at least 20 years is considered by the court to be a reasonable time frame in determining that the proposal is appropriate in this context," the ruling said.

The judge said he was "quite unconvinced" by Mahanga E Tu member David Trubridge's view that houses on the lots would affect the area's amenity.

Lawyers for all parties, including the councils, were to confer on conditions and present these to the court, with final conditions to be set thereafter. The judge reserved costs.

Mexted declined to comment yesterday.

SIX-YEAR SAGA

2004: Former All Black Murray Mexted and friends buy two lots at Mahanga Beach on Mahia Peninsula.

2008: He and co-owners Paul Williams and Servass Van Breda Malherbe apply for resource consents from the Wairoa District and Hawke's Bay regional councils to subdivide the two lots into six sections, to build inside a coastal hazard zone, divert a stream and build a rock wall to prevent erosion.

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August 2009: Commissioners hear the applications in Wairoa. Of 221 submissions, all but five are in opposition.

February 2010: Applications are approved but incorporated society Mahanga E Tu lodges an appeal.

March 2010: A converted tin shed on the site, which Mexted used as a bach, burns down. He says it's arson, as his insurer found two seats to the fire. Fire investigators believe it started in one place.

February 2011: Mexted and Williams' bid to secure a deposit for costs toward the appeal fails.

May 2012: A new report commissioned by Mahanga E Tu shows the coast could be eroding faster than thought. Judge Thompson accepts the report.

December 2012: Mexted and Williams' bid to the High Court to have the new report removed from the appeal is declined by Justice Simon France.

March 2014: Appeal is heard in Environment Court.

April 2014: Appeal is declined. Consents to subdivide stand.

- The Dominion Post

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