from a reader

Last week, most of the submitters to the Gateway /Te Uruhi project requested an adjournment of the Independent Panel, largely due to the probability of the political support for the project being withdrawn in the next triennium.

But on 27 September 2022, Gary Simpson, the acting CEO of the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) wrote to all the Councillors informing them that Council had e-mailed the Independent Hearing Panel (Panel) for the Gateway, opposing any adjournment of the hearings.  

This was in response to the 7 Councillors who had written to Mr Simpson requesting an adjournment.

Mr Simpson indicated the Council’s position was not only to decline the request for an adjournment, but also declined to raise the Councillor’s concerns with the Panel.

This Council as an applicant does have the power to request or agree to an adjournment – but instead lodged a memorandum from lawyers Buddle Findlay [that would have cost Ratepayers $1000+ –Eds] supporting Council’s position to oppose the adjournment.

As a result of the Council’s opposition, Minute #2 was issued by the Independent Hearing Panel denying Clare Holden and Michael Wilson’s request for an adjournment.  Ms Mary O’Callahan, the Independent Commissioner Chairperson stated: “We find that there are no special circumstances present to justify an adjournment” – the concerns raised about costs and political will to cancel the project was not in her view relevant to the Panel’s role.

As a result, submitters will be forced to participate in a hearing next week for a project that is very likely to be withdrawn.

The e-mail from Mr Simpson to Crs and staffers:-

From: Gary Simpson <Gary.Simpson@kapiticoast.govt.nz
Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2022 4:30 PM
To: *DEM – Councillors <KCDCCouncillors@kapiticoast.govt.nz>
Cc: *XTEAM – Senior Leadership Team (SLT) <SeniorLeadershipTeam@kapiticoast.govt.nz>; Alison Law <Alison.Law@kapiticoast.govt.nz>; Tim Power <Tim.Power@kapiticoast.govt.nz>
Subject: FW: Support for Clare Holdens request to Adjourn RMA Hearing in relation to Te Uruhi.(gateway)

Dear Elected Members

Six of you have asked me to seek an adjournment of the resource consent hearing for Te Uruhi scheduled to begin on Monday 3rd October.  This morning following the workshop in the Council Chambers I spoke to the councillors present — Crs Halliday, Handford and Compton — to outline my response to your email and the reasons behind it.  The application for resource consent is consistent with the current council position reached by resolution.  The request to adjourn the hearing by independent commissioners comes after most candidates in the election and a large amount of social media comment makes it clear that the project does not have their support and is likely to not be proceeded with by an incoming council.  Therefore adjourning it now will save further expenditure both for the council and submitters.

The commissioners have issued a minute inviting comment from submitters and KCDC as applicant to the request for the adjournment.  Our submission which was emailed to the commissioners yesterday opposed the adjournment.  The grounds for doing so were as outlined above in that the council position was clear, that candidate positions and predicting election outcomes couldn’t be used to override a resolution, the RMA has timelines built into it which limit the commissioners power to adjourn/postpone hearings without the applicants consent unless other factors are present and that the substantial part of the resource consent expense has already been incurred.  An additional factor of a late delivery of material to one submitter who doesn’t have email and who made a case of disadvantage as a result has also been dealt with in our submission.  It is now up to the commissioners to determine whether the hearing proceeds as scheduled after they have considered the submissions received.  That decision should be available tomorrow and I will let elected members know once it is received.

One final point, the email below asked that it be conveyed to the commissioners.  I have considered whether this was appropriate as, you will appreciate as individuals none of you have any standing in the matter because you had not made a submission on the application and an existing resolution had set out the position of the council.  I have asked Tim Power to consider whether my position is the correct one which he has confirmed to be the case.  Accordingly the letter has not been forwarded to the commissioners.

Nga mihi

Gary 

Gary Simpson
Acting Chief Executive   

Kāpiti Coast District Council 
Tel 04 296 4894    
Mobile 027 5778 707