Reserves proposal: Four petitions, 1215 signatures

Rotorua Lakes Council building. Photo / Andrew Warner / Rotorua Daily Post.

Four petitions with a total of 1215 signatures opposing the proposal to sell 10 Rotorua reserve sites for housing will be presented to the council on Thursday.

Each petition differs slightly in its wording but all are opposed in some way to the proposal or parts of it.

At least three petitioners are expected to speak to the full Rotorua Lakes Council meeting on Thursday.

It follows Local Democracy Reporting’s April revelation the council was discussing the proposal behind closed doors, and it was later revealed the Government began the discussion about reserves early last year.

The council’s proposal, which is now out for consultation, proposes to revoke the reserve status of the 10 reserve sites to enable the council to sell six to Kāinga Ora – for a mix of public and affordable housing – and the rest to other developers.

To do this, the council has stated it prefers to pursue a local bill to revoke the reserve status of the sites, rather than via the Reserves Act, as that process would take too long, in the council’s view.

The biggest petition has 630 signatures and is led by Don Paterson.

Paterson’s petition stated it opposed the council’s proposed Rotorua District Council (Reserves Revocation and Vesting Bill and urged the council to “retain the 10 identified reserves in their entirety and preserve them for future generations”. It asked the council to not proceed with the bill “nor any version thereof”.

Paterson had requested to speak on his petition at the council meeting, as is allowed in the council’s standing orders, which provide guidelines for meeting process. The agenda for the meeting also stated time had been set aside for all four petitioners to speak.

The next biggest petition was one led by Adrienne Smith and John Terendale, with 354 signatures.

That petition was related to Lee Rd Reserve only and was “independent of all other petitions", the petition receipt – which was included in the agenda pack for Thursday’s meeting – said.

John Kininmouth and Chanel Brightwell’s petition related to Coulter Rd Reserve had 148 signatures and said it was signed by households around Ōwhata. A letter addressed to council chief executive Geoff Williams in the agenda pack from the two stated the petition was “yet more proof of the overwhelming rejection of the council’s proposal to take our community asset”.

"We have very stable homes in a very stable community. The opportunities for family exercise and fun that the Ōwhata Reserve provides must not be taken from our hard-working families that moved here in part due to the active and passive enjoyment the reserve provides.

“As the reserve was gifted to the council in perpetuity by the Coulter family when the subdivision was established in the 1950s, the current council retains the responsibilities the then council entered into with the developer and purchasers of the sections,” the letter claimed.

The letter also expressed general objection and lack of agreement for the basis of the overall proposal.

The smallest petition was presented by Chris Staines, with 83 signatures. It stated it was opposed to the sale of part of the Linton Park West reserve at 16 Kamahi Pl.

Three of the 10 reserve sites identified. From left, Park Rd, Turner Rd and Wrigley Rd reserves. Photo / Andrew Warner / Rotorua Daily Post.

The council has previously said no decisions have yet been made on the proposal, including how it would revoke reserve status if the decision were to progress, and the conditions of sale imposed if it went ahead.

A February report by council consultants Market Economics said Rotorua needed more than 3500 more dwellings by 2023, and 10,000 by 2050.

In 2021, 1121 people went through emergency accommodation in Rotorua according to a Ministry of Social Development report.

Housing Minister Megan Woods has previously expressed ramping up public housing in Rotorua is the long-term solution to its emergency accommodation needs and the use of motels.

On June 16, the council said it had received 155 submissions on the reserves proposal, and on June 22 it announced it would extend the submission period for the proposal to July 14 at 5pm.

The same day, the council also announced it would hold hearings for submitters. It had previously decided not to hold them for the proposal.

-Local Democracy Reporting is public interest journalism funded by NZ On Air.

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