October 9 2003, Council meeting held in private in Council Chambers for granting of Zone Change from Open Space to Airport This was possibly the largest land mass in public use in Kapiti District and should have been held in public as required in law.
It is not illegal to have meetings in private under specified circumstances but this clearly was not one of them.
The only members of the public at the meeting were the then airport owner, Mr Murray Cole and his manager Mr Richard Baldwin, who were there contrary to rules.
The meeting was chaired by Cr. Ann Chapman deputy mayor, (Mayor Alan Milne had declared himself an interested party).
The meeting was presided over by CEO of that time, Mr Mark Dacombe.
Subsequent to the meeting, Cr D Briggs asked for explanation and the already published minutes were withdrawn and re-issued to falsely show the unofficial visitors had left the meeting before the voting took place.
Cr Briggs denied this, also pointing out the minutes did not show the visitors left. The minutes were then again withdrawn and altered again to show Cr Briggs had also left the meeting prior to the voting and therefore could not have seen who was at the voting.
Hence the minutes were withdrawn and altered twice for a meeting that should not have been held behind closed doors.
It generated a totally farcical situation, as documents to hand show.
The consequences of this re-zoning was to change the land from a designation which was limited to public use, into land more suitable for private development, albeit limited to Aviation use.
A Zone being set in statute as land protected for a specified use.
But Council now informally introduced Precincts within that Airport zone. Precincts having no definition, but being obliged to conform with the same rules as the Zone of which they are a part. (A Precinct has similar status in law as a House Rule).
By so abusing the zoning ruling, Kapiti became host to: a furniture upholsterer, a contractors hire centre, three second hand car yards, a builders supply centre, a bathroom fitting centre, an estate agency, and a car testing station, all registered on Council records, as airport activities and hence free of paying rates.
Noting that the general rating for the airport land had not increased to accommodate the new businesses , Cr D Briggs queried the fact in writing to CEO Mark Dacombe who replied with the statement that, Council are not responsible for rating, as it is the responsibility of private contractors Quotable Value NZ. (copy available)
(This is of course not strictly true, as Q.V.NZ are responsible only for striking the rating in accordance with instructions of Council)
Cr Briggs then contacted Q.V.NZ and a representative visited the site and rated all the new businesses. Q.V.NZ then notified Council of the new listings to the rating plan leaving Council, unable to rate the businesses separately as facts dictated, had no option but to increase the Airport base rate, in accordance with the false Precincts.
A letter was then sent from Council to the new owner, signed by Mr Warwick Read, KCDC Manager Finance, in which he says, This has resulted from an objection from Mr Don Briggs and
I do apologize for this late change
and look forward to working with you as you embark on your development plans.
It should be noted that the developer had not even applied at that stage for any development, albeit it had become public knowledge, via an intensive private program of promotion through the press and by public meetings.
The airport general rate was increased from the previous figure of $21,832 .30 to a new figure of $48,042.85. By doing this it was proved that by putting such diverse businesses onto the Airport base rate that the Zoning process had been abused.
It should be noted that the Airport had been re-sold during this time as public awareness had intensified to a point where it must have become realized that difficulties in developing the land for any purpose other than as an airport, was to present difficulties
The new owner may or may not, have been aware of these difficulties now alive in the public mind, and mounted a very intensive public relations campaign of public meetings and press promotion in favor of general development.
He did not however register any development application officially with Council until over a year of privately managed promotion in which unsubstantiated and obviously false claims were unchallenged Such as offering to create 7000 new jobs, including a false letter purporting to give the necessary Maori approval, and promising highly imaginative new industries and activities all on land which he was aware was designated as Airport.
This period, of private promotion lasted over a year, driven and controlled by professional P/R firm and press agents. By doing so it replaced what should have been a period of Council driven independent evaluation of environment, economic social and cultural impacts on the community, as required in L.G.Act pt6 under Special Consultative Procedure.
This meant that all public submissions were made on prejudiced information supplied by the developer.
This fact is borne out by baseless statements subsequently made by council executives, We are obliged to present the public with the papers as provided to us by the developer (see response to question at meeting of February 19 2009), and Normally we are obliged to produce a report at the time of notification but not in the case of a Private application pg 16,of Council report to Commissioners Hearing Plan Change 73.
Both of these statements are false and would if true, have the effect of eliminating all public participation in the notification process.
It is a fundamental requirement of the Act that Council produce an independent report giving economic, environmental, social, and cultural consequences, for any change made to the annual, or long term plan (L.G.Act. pt 6).
The evidence above means that the public submissions process was corrupted as they were based on unauthorized information supplied by the developer, rather than by independent Council approved sources as required in law.
It means the only qualified action made by Council was to provide the stamp of authority on the papers (compact disc) supplied and controlled entirely by the private developer. Thus is a total negation of the public process as laid down.
Not withstanding the above abuses the public submissions were overwhelmingly oppose to the development proceeding on the plan as presented.
It is now claimed by Council executives, following questioning that L.G.Act is not the guiding legislation in considering a change to the District/Annual/long term plan.
This would appear to mean Council has no mandate in law to make changes to a plan it still acknowledges as being the legislation under which it must use in setting the same District/Annual/Long term Plan.
It should be noted that CEO Mark Dacombe who presided over the first re-zoning meeting and following controversy surrounding the faulted change of Zoning left KCDC prior to the new airport ownership, to take a short term contract in the Prime Ministers Office to: advise on changes to the Local Government Act.
It should be noted that if finally approved by Environment Court on the basis of the above it would allow the developer to use the land for any activity and in any way he wished while still appearing to be an airport.
It should also be noted that throughout the entire process Council has never had the opportunity to discuss the matter in full Council before a mayor. Every mention of it has been on the agenda of a sub-committee with the exception of the final formal approval.
Even the most major public meeting held at Southwards Theatre due to pressure of public interest was before a sub-committee.
No mayor has ever been in the chair of any meeting where the Airport has been on the agenda prior to granting final approval.