Battle over Coro Town's Four Square continues
LIBBY WILSON AND NARELLE HENSON
Coromandel Town's contentious Four Square is in the spotlight again as the local council and Foodstuffs seek costs after the Court of Appeal rejected an application from heritage group Coromandel Main Street Incorporated (Coro Mainstreet).
Coro Mainstreet wanted to overturn an earlier High Court decision that rejected the group's application for a judicial review of Thames-Coromandel District Council's decision not to notify Foodstuffs' resource consent application.
TCDC says it has gone "beyond ‘enough is enough' ", and is seeking to recover almost $30,000 in court costs from Coro Mainstreet.
The National Trading Company (Foodstuffs), which is building the Four Square, will also seek $30,000 from Coro Mainstreet via the High Court and Court of Appeal to recover some of its costs.
Coro Mainstreet claimed the development would harm the town's character and resource consent should have been publicly notified.
David Foreman, Coro Mainstreet's chairman, said the organisation would ideally like to pay the $60,000, but was not in a position to do so currently.
He said a number of people had come forward with donations exceeding $100,000 to help Coro Mainstreet get to court in the first place, but nothing was left.
He said it was unfortunate the process ended up costing so much for those involved.
"Coro Mainstreet Inc was never against a supermarket. All we wanted was for the TCDC to comply with its own district plan regarding heritage and transport.
"We ask Foodstuffs again - build your supermarket but have the parking behind the building and accessed off Charles St. This would resolve the outstanding heritage and transport issues."
He said while the organisation was disappointed with the outcome and did not feel the court had given enough weight to some issues, it was unlikely Coro Mainstreet would take further action.
TCDC chief executive David Hammond said the legal battles had been a costly process, and the council owed it to its ratepayers to recover the money.
"The combined wastage of taxpayer and ratepayer funding is in excess of $130,000. And all so a Four Square shop can be built in a commercial zone. Unbelievable," he said.
"We've been put through a judicial review in March and it was found there was no error of law. We've gone through the Court of Appeal, which supported council. We've gone beyond ‘enough is enough' ".
Mr Hammond said the council had yet to decide how much to seek in reparations, but estimated it would be about $28,000.
There was little chance of recovering costs from the Ministry for the Environment, which initially funded the group through "arm's-length legal assistance", he said.
Foodstuffs group communications manager Jo Jalfon said it had been a long wait for an outcome.
"We hope this is now the end of the court process and the start of us being able to bring a bigger, better food and grocery offer to the Coromandel community."
Foodstuffs hoped to have the building under way by the end of next year.
The council granted resource consent for the demolition of a motel building in Coromandel Town's main street and construction of the Four Square in 2012, but it was not publicly notified.
Earlier this year, Mr Foreman said the large building and ensuing changes to traffic and parking would destroy Coromandel's "unique village feel", so he felt the appeal was the last chance to save the town's character.
At the time, Mr Hammond made it clear the council would seek costs from Coro Mainstreet in the Court of Appeal hearing.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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