Free camping bylaw on hold
Kapiti's freedom camping bylaw is in limbo as the council dodges a battle over its legality.
Kapiti Coast District councillors put the by-law on hold to work with the NZ Motor Caravan Association on understanding the new Freedom Camping Act.
It comes after the association pointed out the draft by-law could be in breach of the law.
Resource management co- ordinator for the association, James Imlach, told the Kapiti Observer if the by-law was passed the association would not rule out a legal challenge.
The association's submission said the general "anti-freedom camping" tone of the bylaw is inconsistent with the "permissive" approach intended by the Act.
It questioned the council's removal of four freedom camping sites near Otaki's Byron's Resort to avoid competition with the business.
"Whilst we do not object to KCDC supporting local business sectors it is inappropriate, in fact unlawful, to do so through a by- law. This may set a precedent."
The submission said if adopted the by-law would not withstand legal scrutiny.
"This by-law has gained nationwide interest, therefore to avoid embarrassment the decisions must be based on proper process and comply with the intent and requirements of the Freedom Camping Act."
The Act came into force last year, giving councils the right to issue $200 tickets for minor infringements of freedom camping by-laws. This year the council created a draft by-law, modelled on its existing policy, so it could issue $200 fines under the legislation.
The council released the draft for consultation in April, held hearings in August and was set to adopt the by-law. Last week staff recommended it instead be held for "12 to 18 months" to work with the association, and other councils, before deciding whether to create a by-law.
Instead the council will retain its policy, adopted in December 2010 - originally allowing for 35 self-contained vehicles at 12 sites throughout the district.
The council, however, ditched three approved sites from its list: two at Te Horo Beach, on Sims Rd and the car park at the Sea Rd beach reserve.The four spaces at the Otaki beach site were also removed.
Council committee chairwoman Diane Ammundsen said the Act gave people with self- contained vans more rights than the by-law would have allowed.
- Kapiti Observer
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