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February council meeting highlights

28 Feb 2013

February council meeting highlights

The agenda and staff reports for Council meeting 28 February 2013(external link)

Changes to earthquake-prone building policies

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has proposed a number of changes to the Building Act. The purpose is to ensure councils throughout New Zealand have a consistent approach to managing earthquake-prone buildings.

The Ministry has asked Gisborne District Council to provide feedback. Council agrees with most of the changes recommended as they are already in our current policy. However, Council does not agree that:

• Council should assess all buildings at their cost and then notify owners. This has huge cost implications for Council.

• The District Plan requirements for heritage buildings would not apply to earthquake strengthening. Council would be out of the loop in maintaining the historic nature of the city.

• Strengthening requirements are limited to taking the building over 33% of the building standard level. Gisborne has long had a higher strengthening requirement - (67% encouraged).

Block offer for petroleum exploration

Central government has proposed to offer onshore and offshore blocks for petroleum exploration permits in 2013.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has asked Council - as well as iwi and hapu with an interest - for information on areas of particular sensitivity. The 2 proposed blocks for the Gisborne district cover a substantial area to the west of Gisborne city.

The public were invited by Council to provide feedback in December.  33 comments were received – 27 opposing, 5 supporting and one neutral. All comments have been forwarded to the Ministry.

Council’s response to the Ministry was that Council resource management plans allow for exploration activities but that they require consent. Petroleum exploration effects can be managed within our current plan provisions. These provisions will be reviewed once the Crown Minerals Act has been passed and the government report on hydraulic fracturing received.

A subsequent more specific minerals regime may include a greater focus on protection of areas that are currently protected for biodiversity reasons and waahi tapu. Further protection could also be included for areas with aquifers, areas used for intensive food production, tourist areas and areas close to urban centres and major transport corridors.

Tairāwhiti Navigations project update

Progress has been made on the Tairāwhiti Navigations project. The aim is to make the most of the region’s rich culture and heritage. The project aims to utilise the local history of ‘the meeting of two cultures’ (Māori and Pākehā) and establish historic interpretations centred on the Turanganui River and the site of the rock Te Toka a Taiao/au (the meeting place of two cultures).

• Feasibility and design completed

• A 25m trial wall has been consented and construction is to commence in March 2013

• Resource consent for the entire wall was lodged in January 2013

Study into the parking limitations in the inner harbour area has commenced.

Annual plan adopted for consultation

Savings of $2m and a rates increase lower than projected are features of Council’s draft 2013/14 Annual Plan that was adopted for consultation. Council is proposing to collect $50m in rates in the next financial year, a significant reduction from the $52m originally forecast.

The Annual Plan outlines what Council intends to do in the 12 months from July and what it will cost ratepayers. The $50m equates to a 2.5% increase in rates collected across the district. Actual changes for individual ratepayers will vary depending on where they live, the value of their property and the services provided in different areas.

A summary of the plan and submission form will be delivered to all households from Monday next week (4 March). The full plan will be available on Council’s website from that date. Mayor Meng Foon and Council managers will be hitting the road over the next month attending 21 update meetings in communities throughout the district.

Public consultation will run from 5 March to 5 April 2013.

Chief Executive’s activity report

Judy Campbell advised that ECT and Council are working on position papers for the possible Economic Development process for the region.

She provided an update on Council’s major projects including...

• Library - Opus will provide conceptual sketches (not designs) for the footprint of the library extending into Treble Court.

• Cycle and Walkway project – Midway section. Concept plans received and consultation with beachfront owners has been held. Consent is still to be submitted.

• Cenotaph - Investigations show the interior has deteriorated significantly. Council to decide in March whether to repair or rebuild. Lottery funding is available to commemorate the centennial of World War One and a rebuild would possibly meet the criteria for funding.

• War Memorial Theatre – on track to start building this year; resource consent has been granted and the detailed design submitted for building consent. The building consent will be peer reviewed. An energy efficiency review of the proposed design is to be done.