Residents win hazard lines challenge

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 16:01 21/03/2014

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Kapiti

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A group of Kapiti Coast beachfront property owners have won a hard-fought challenge against the contentious coastal hazard lines affecting 1800 properties.

There was a public outcry in August 2012 when Kapiti Coast District Council announced predicted 50 and 100-year flood lines affecting 1800  properties along the coastline and placed them on LIM reports the same day.
Now an expert panel appointed to review the hazard lines has decided they are not robust enough to be included in the proposed District Plan, and has recommended they be modified and updated.

But this does not mean the lines will definitely be removed. Mayor Ross Church said this afternoon that more work remained to be done, and an independent review of the proposed District Plan would be made public next month.

It has also recommended this afternoon that other studies be undertaken to update the council-commissioned report, written by Roger Shand.

Owners of some of the most expensive properties along the coastline from Paekakariki to Otaki were aghast when the lines were placed on their LIM reports, drastically affecting thevaluations and insurance for their properties. Lobby group Coastal Ratepayers United, representing affected beachfront property owners including barristers, engineers and architects, launched a zealous battle to have the lines removed.

CRU member Joan Allin, a former Environment Court judge, described the Shand report, on which the lines were based, as ''fundamentally and fatally flawed''.

In April last year the council bowed to public pressure and decided to get a panel of leading experts in coastal science to review the Shand report. Professor Paul Komar, of Oregon State Unversity, James Carley from the Water Research Laboratory of New South Wales, Professor Paul Kench from the School of Environment at Auckland University, and Dr Robert Davies from the Wellington firm Statistics Research Associates were appointed to the panel.

In October last year Waikanae bach owner John Harding demanded a review of the 50-year line drawn over his property and;succeeded in getting it shifted away from most of his section.

Waikanae beachfront resident Mike Weir sought a judicial review to have hazard lines removed from his property.

In December last year High Court judge Justice Joe Williams, in an interim judgement, described the hazard lines as ''starkly simplistic'', having the potential to seriously affect the value and marketability of coastal properties. During his mayoral campaign challenging former mayor Jenny Rowan, Ross Church vowed to have another look at the hazard line issue and, in December, he and the new council removed the lines from LIMs but retained a link;to the maps on its website with a reduced amount of information. 

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Waikanae community board chairman Michael Scott said the council made the mistake of not talking to property owners and getting more scientific information before putting the hazard information on LIM reports, damaging titles and home resales.

The council should have worked with property owners to come up with a strategy that would not have meant ''ratepayers had to effectively go into bat against them''.

- Wellington

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