Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Amendments to parking bylaw.

Thames Coromandel District Council invited submissions on district wide parking charges for cars with boat trailers parking adjacent to council boat ramps.
The initial WCA submission was posted. At the hearings on 4th November 2009 I was told by the chairperson to take the initial submission as read by Council. I then tabled and read the further submission to the bylaw.
Submission to TCDC 12 October 2009.
This submission looks at charging of carparks by the Thames Coromandel District Council (Council). More specifically trailer boat parking near boat ramps in the Council’s district area. Though the scope of the by-law is district wide, each local area has its own set of issues and character. This submission looks at the Whangamata boat trailer parking .
Two important base line perspectives that the decision makers within Council need to have awareness of :-
· There is skilane adjacent to some of the trailer boat parks.
· There is an understanding by the community of Whangamata that boat trailer charges are to be used for the purposes of upkeep of the boat trailer parks and the hard sand boat ramp in Whangamata.
· Costs for dredging at Whangamata are partially recovered through boat trailer parking fees.
· The Council recommended and contributed millions of ratepayer dollars pursuing a marina, the excavated channel of which shares the existing boat ramp area.
· Though the marina is totally on Council and Crown land it is totally a private development. It is not core infrastructure.
Recreation Reserve – Boat Trailer Carpark, Lot 9 DPS 30953. An area in the south west corner seems to recently have been elevated due to placement of marina dredgings and now cannot be used for trailer boat parking. Can Council write to WCA before the presentation date if this is the case? This land had a Gazette Notice placed on it and a CFR issued on the 13 May 2008. Can Council send those documents to WCA previous to the presentation date?
Pt Sec 13 BLK XVI Tairua SD Council owned land extending off the western end of Beach Road. Council brought this land for a community reserve and trailer boat parking. In the 1970’s a problem surrounding lack of trailer boat parking and a future need for more community reserve space was identified by the Whangamata Community Board. Somehow the purpose of purchase morphed into providing land for a private marina development. The marina development, possibly speculative in nature, has impacted negatively on the amount of trailer boat parking. This has eroded the value of community assets, these being the boat ramp and its ancillary parking; organised around a scale required for trailer boat parking.
Council legal and planning consultants and Council planning staff involved in the marina consents did not advise the Council these losses would result from the development.
The submitter requests -
· The information asked for earlier in this submission.
· That the yearly charge for trailer boat parking of around $65 pre year is retained and spent on retention and upkeep of exiting trailer boat carparks, the sand based boat ramp and the skilane reserves at Whangamata.
· That the Council stops paying a contribution towards boat ramp channel maintenance to the marina company. The marina company has had seed money contributed by the Council and it is impacting negatively on trailer boat parking and has lessened the degree of road safety. The lessening of the degree of road safety has been caused by boat ramp users now having to use meridian strips, on the beach, on inter-tidal flats, road side parking deep into the surrounding residential area of the boat ramp. This is an effect of the marina development yet to be explained to the community.

Further Submissions to Parking Amendment 4 November 2009 to the Thames Coromandel District Council from the Whangamata Camping Association.

The problem of overflow parking was avoided at Labour Weekend because Council land, part of the Extra High Density Housing Area, was opened up for overflow trailer boat parking for those using the Whangamata boat ramp. The use it was brought for by the Council.

The solution to the overflow parking requirements for the Whangamata boatramp is to change the zoning from Extra High Density Housing to a zoning allowing parking. This will be at a cost to the Council and the write down on the land value will be significant.

Unfortunately for the ratepayer the Legal and Planning team for the Council during the marina consents never told the ratepayer or the Court of this possible loss of value. As they never told the ratepayer and Court that the largest population and habitat of indigenous coastal reptiles lived on this Council owned land. The loss of this bio diversity is more significant that the housing write down

The submitter requests -

· That the yearly charge for trailer boat parking of around $65 pre year is retained and spent on retention and upkeep of exiting trailer boat carparks, the sand based boat ramp and the skilane reserves at Whangamata.
· The trailer boat parking fee in Whangamata is not used by the Council to hide a “marina tax” to sponsor private investments and speculation.

Whangamata Camping Association.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mud magnet.

Mud sticks. Once accumulated it’s very hard to shift.
Sand rolls. In the wind, in storms. In water with tidal and current movements.
From the 11 to the 13th of October a group of Whangamata Camping Association (WCA) members walked and examined, around low tide, the recently excavated channel from the dugout marina basin down to the boat ramp. This part of the channel has never been dredged or altered previously.
The dredging and excavation is from a natural depth of .25 to .5 m to an artificial depth of 2m (at low tide). Rock walls and a weir structure have been placed in parts of the channel at the entrance to the excavated basin.
The most noticeable thing at such an early stage is the mud. The numerous black rock structures, only in the water months, are already deeply stained. Thick mud 5 to 10 cm thick has accumulated on the low tide flats behind the rock walls. All the marina structures are mud stained including the concrete pontoons.
The recently built weir has mud building on its surface. The structure is nearly always in moving water.
Where the rock wall ends a micro channel has formed. It runs from the low tide mark to a point 3 to 4 meters out from the rock wall and then runs (roughly) parallel to the dredged channel and joins up with (what was) a dead end channel opposite the boatramp (click on photos to enlarge.) The dead end channel opposite the boat ramp has been there for some time. The micro channel is new and came after completion of the rock wall around September 2009.
The most noticeable change is the increase in heights of the sediment banks on the western side of the causeway bridge. The increase in height has meant the channel has now carved faces into the sediment banks along its low tide meander, something that never happened previously.
The damming effect caused by the cauceway (built in 1974), is well documented. It has caused rapid infilling up stream with associated encroachment of flora. It was a known ecological disaster. Has this infilling now been accelerated?
While walking around the intertidal flats, WCA members were told by HeB workers on the site that crayfish had started living in the rock walls, and the marina is going to have problems with the channel and basin filling in.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Return of the godwits

Whangamata’s godwits are back home for summer. The usual pattern of return is a small (strong) group returning first. Within a week that small group doubles in numbers. A few weeks latter the rest return. (Click on photos to enlarge).
These photos are taken at the eastern (town) end of the Whangamata estuary where the godwits roost on the high tide. 80% of the harbour area is dry at low tide and around those times the flock forage over the large intertidal flats.
The photo of 7th November 2009 shows a piling barge moored in the background. The barge has spent a few weeks in Whangamata checking swing moorings and replacing poles. Though moored craft owners are a very small minority amongst boat users, let alone harbour users, they seem to own the Waikato Regional Councils budget and agenda for all of the Whangamata coastal marine area.
The Councils don’t understand songs of the godwit, bio diversity, cultural history or nuance like wave quality. Their attitude is they are not going to waste time or money on such things. For the Councils marine brokerage has priority as the baseline for Planning strategy in Whangamata.

The Waikato Regional Council has placed a mangrove tax on the ratepayers of Whangamata. Every one needs to be alert that the Councils do not place a “marina tax” on Whangamata. Where by the Councils disguise revenue gathering or expenditure to subsidises the investment and speculation platform of the marina company. The main techniques will be non notified consents and public excluded minutes on what are corporately owned public lands, foreshore and seabed.

A few signs around the Beach Road reserves would help protect the godwits while roosting. The Councils have refused expenditure for this.

Number of moored craft in Whangamata on 18 October 2009.
Pole moorings – 51 boats. Swing moorings – 50 boats. Slipway – 3 boats.