Submissions deadline within the law - council

ANDREA FOX
Last updated 11:03 07/02/2013

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Hamilton City Council says its deadline of March 1 for public submissions on the proposed district plan is within the law.

The Waikato Chamber of Commerce and landlord advocate the Waikato Property Investors Association earlier this week called on the council to extend the public submission deadline to the end of March.

The groups said businesses and property investors needed more time to digest such an important plan - the biggest for the city since since the 1990s.

Chamber president Tony Begbie said the holidays had shrunk the effective submission time.

But city environments general manager Brian Croad said the council had taken into account the impact of the December-January holiday period.

He said the Resource Management Act states that a local authority must ensure a submission period of at least 40 working days for a proposed plan.

Hamilton's proposed district plan was notified on December 10 2012, and called for submissions until March 1 this year, meeting the statutory requirements. 

This holiday period is recognised in the Act which states that December 20 to January 10 do not count towards the minimum statutory working days requirement, Croad said.

The notification in early December ensured awareness of the plan prior to businesses holiday closedown. Along with a March submission 1 closure date this enabled a seven week period for parties to make their submissions on returning to work on January 14, he said.

The consultation now being called for by the Waikato Chamber of Commerce had already been undertaken, Croad said.

However city councillor Dave Macpherson said the requests for an extension have not yet been discussed by the council.

Mr Croad said there had been an extensive consultative process throughout the review in preparing the plan, which included the release of a draft district plan in April 2012, the calling for feedback, public open days, workshops with key stakeholders such as  organisations, businesses, community groups. 

The present submission process is the formal statutory period to enable parties to now formally support the plan or seek change; for those submissions to be supported or opposed by other parties; and all points of view formally considered and determined through the hearings, he said.

"At this point in the process both the operative and proposed district plans must be considered for subdivision and development proposals which does cause a level of confusion, additional work and cost for all involved.  To ensure the least amount of disruption council has set a timetable following the close of submissions to progress the hearing of submissions and enable a set of decisions to be released in a timely manner during 2013."

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