Ruakura plea to council

23:00, Nov 12 2012
Mike Pohio
Tainui Group Holdings CEO, Mike Pohio, on the Ruakura site planned for a $3billion inland port.

Ruakura residents have publicly condemned the lack of consultation with them by Hamilton City Council over Tainui Group Holdings' plans for a huge inland port neighbouring their properties.

The group today asked council to consider their plight before agreeing to publicly notify a draft district plan which includes zone changes clearing the path for the proposed freight hub.

Resident Derrick Marsters, one of about 30 adjacent ratepayers, said concessions changing the properties' zoning from logistics to large residential "seems to me a very clever way by council staff to end up with the same result. It feels like death by a thousand cuts. Nothing has really changed..where in ten or fifteen years we're going to become [zoned] logistics," said Mr Marsters.

The group had commissioned real estate appraisals and "there's no doubt there's a significant loss of value on our properties whereas Tainui will have massive equity growth overnight, at the stroke of a pen. Leave us out, deal with us, give us some sort of concession," he said.

"The gentlemen behind me, from Tainui, have had months, if not years of engagement."

"No resident I've spoken to is opposed to the plan. We want the best for Hamilton, we want the best for the community. We just want to retain what we have," said Mr Marsters.

The proposed zoning for the properties changes the rules for subdivision and includes a 40m building setback, while the residents  want the current rules retained and a significant buffer belt or bunding.

Resident Peter Ryan said the council had missed a golden opportunity to modify the district plan prior to notification to lessen the impact of TGH's proposed port on neighbouring properties.

He said there had been a "deafening silence" from council and TGH on the propsal's impact.

"The purpose of this submission is to have the failure to consult entered in the council record."

Council staff said it was not correct to say subdivision was not possible for the residents under the proposed changes. Under the current country living provisions inherited from Waikato District subdivision in the area was a controlled activity down to 5000 sq m and for smaller lots sizes was discretionary. The proposed change in the district plan would make subdivision down to 2ha a limited discretionary activity, and smaller than that a restricted discretionary activity, they said.

A Tainui delegation led by TGH chief executive Mike Pohio talked up the economic impact of the inland port proposal and congratulated council for its work on the draft district plan.

"Today is core business. This sets the framework by which Hamilton City defines itself in New Zealand. What the project does is offer hope through jobs. Some 6-12,000 jobs, that's the essence of our proposal. TGH is fully committed, with all its resources, to the development of Ruakura," said Mr Pohio. Council will consider the draft district plan later today.