Residents vow to battle for buffer
Ruakura residents facing encirclement by a $3 billion freight hub are willing to take their fight as far as necessary but still hope common sense prevails.
The group collectively owns about 35ha which would eventually be bound on three sides by an inland port under Tainui Group Holding's proposal - now adopted by Hamilton City Council under its proposed district plan.
Spokesman and 30-year Percival Rd resident Bill Cowie said the residents were not opposed to the inland port project but want its effects on their properties mitigated through a 40-metre wide planted buffer and bund.
The group has been critical of council staff efforts to consult with them and say city officials are privately resigned to an Environment Court appeal.
He said a 1500m-long buffer belt to shield their properties from the worst of the port's effects would be just 6ha of the overall 300ha development.
The group has established a war chest to try to win two concessions - the buffer belt, and retaining their current zoning - through combined and individual submissions to hearings after last week narrowly failing to persuade councillors to delay the district plan and find middle ground.
Mr Cowie said the residents would take their fight as far as they had to.
But councillor Martin Gallagher remains hopeful of compromise, and has rejected comments from the Employers and Manufacturers Association labelling residents anti-jobs when in fact they supported the port plans.
"What they ask is not unreasonable, a 40m buffer with a bund, it's half of a percent, if that. This is a property-owning democracy, and we all want economic growth, but not in the Chinese bulldozer-style where property rights come second. Council consultation with residents has been woeful."
"I'll be giving every assistance I can to the residents. I'm not against the Tainui aspirations for our city, but it must not be at the expense of our residents. With goodwill and negotiations we can achieve that," he said. "TGH must show goodwill."