Developer battling subdivision conditions

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 27/03/2014

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An Aokautere subdivision which prompted an Environment Court enforcement order to stop earthmoving without consent is fuelling further disagreement between the developer and the Palmerston North City Council.

Pacific Farm Developments' objections to a range of conditions that council staff attached to a subdivision consent were heard by a council hearings committee yesterday.

The wrangle follows a hearing before the same committee a month ago, in which another Les Fugle-directed company, Farm Holdings (4) Ltd, objected to a similar raft of conditions.

The decision in that case has not yet been made.

The latest hearing relates to a 36-lot subdivision at the Aokautere Drive end of Johnstone Drive, opposite Waicola Drive.

Among the disputed conditions are requirements for the developers to pay all costs due to the city council before the consent can become effective.

"Payment is an extraneous business matter, and not a resource management issue," said Pacific Farms consultant Phil Pirie.

But council lawyer Nick Jesson said there was legal precedent for requiring bills to be paid before a developer could exercise rights granted by the consent.

He said that the applicant in this case had "a history of late payment".

Mr Pirie argued other conditions were either not within the council's powers, imposed controls not applied to similar subdivisions, or duplicated requirements overseen by Horizons Regional Council.

Resource consents senior planner Simon Mori said some of the conditions were added as safeguards because earthworks had begun before consent for them was granted.

The city council sought an enforcement order from the Environment Court when it realised unauthorised earthworks had been carried out, and that order was issued on February 17.

Horizons had since issued the necessary consent.

But Mr Mori said there were concerns about stability, as the council could not know if the unauthorised works had been properly monitored.

The council's legal advice noted the developer had "a history of enforcement issues" which set the context for the council to impose additional conditions.

Mr Pirie, however, said his client had "a proven track record" of carrying out earthworks properly.

He said the amount of earth moved at the site was significantly less than at the stalled subdivision at the far end of Johnstone Drive or at the lapsed Abby Rd subdivision.

If there were any problems identified by a geotechnical engineer, certificates and titles could not be issued and the sections could not be sold and built on without the council adding more conditions, Mr Pirie said.

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He also registered a protest that the hearings committee, chaired by Cr Tangi Utikere, had not yet made a decision on the previous case relating to a neighbouring subdivision.

That was not the "prompt and timely" service his client should expect, he said.

Cr Utikere said there was no attempt to hold anything up. The committee was simply exercising due diligence.

- Manawatu Standard

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