Published 5 March 2008
Many of the more controversial consent applications dealt with by the Auckland City Council will be dealt with more privately under a change of practice decided at last week’s council meeting.
Although the practice has varied from term to term, for several years the council has run a fairly open policy on applications which haven’t been dealt with directly by staff under delegated powers, or which haven’t gone directly to a hearing.
Independent commissioners were introduced to hearings panels in past terms and, in this council term, three independents took over the role of the former planning fixtures committee, conducting weekly meetings in public on applications under the signs & billboards bylaws and for resource consent applications not otherwise delegated.
Last week the council voted to continue employing 2 of those commissioners, Les Simmons & Conway Stewart, as duty commissioners, but to replace former western ward community board chairman Cathie Hawley with Greg Hill, who left the position of policy & planning general manager at the Auckland Regional Council at the end of February.
Council regulatory planning manager Andrew Gysberts said the council intended the commissioners to deal with applications on the papers, without appearances by applicants or their representatives, also without council staff present unless called upon, and without a public or media presence.
They held their last weekly meeting as the planning fixtures sub-committee on 26 February and, as duty commissioners, will meet twice/week in the Auckland City Environments building.
Mr Gysberts said the practice of appearances by applicants evolved over the years. Going back 15-20 years, a similar scheme to the new proposal was used, but with councillors rather than independent commissioners.
Attribution: Council decision, phone interview, story written by Bob Dey for The Bob Dey Property Report.
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