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Stinking compost leads to demands for action

April 11th, 2012
[by David Armstrong]

The row about the possibility of water pollution, along with residents' anger about the smell, from Birdhurst's allegedly non-complying compost operation resulted in some forthright exchanges at yesterday's April meeting of the Motueka Community Board.

The discussion was prompted by three speakers at the pre-meeting public forum. Following considerable coverage in the Nelson Mail in recent weeks (see one of the stories here), the speakers demanded answers from board members about the continued existence of the composting activity operated by Birdhurst on the Motueka River boundary.

They claimed, among other things, that the volume of the compost pit, consisting of rotting hen and bark, was up to 20 times its consented limit, that nothing was being done to bring it back to acceptable limits, that a decent rain would cause pollution to our waterways, and that if illegalities were found in TDC's management of this, Tasman councillors and Motueka community board members could be liable for financial damages.

They also accused ward councillors and board members of "sitting on their hands and doing nothing" since the matter was made public in the news media, and that the elected members should be doing more than just reading about it in the paper but instead investigate themselves. Answers are urgently needed, they demanded.

Later in the board meeting proper, board members said they had known nothing about the issue until it had been raised in the media, and that Council staff were already looking through the documentation to understand the facts about the history of the operation and the current status. They were concerned that rumours and conflicting numbers were driving the complaints, rather than researched facts.

The community board agreed to urgently ask the council's Environment and Planning Committee for details of the legality of the operation in terms of its resource consent, and how it has been monitored until now. They will ask for an urgent on-site meeting with the compliance officer to review the situation.

Special Projects decided:  After many workshop sessions since last spring, the community board has finally settled on a way to spend the $25,000 special projects budget, raised from a $5 targeted levy (see our earlier story here).

The $25,000 has been added to a slice of the board's $15,000 surplus for the 2010 - 2011 year, and the resulting sum will be spent on: $7500 for extra mobile scooter / pram crossings; $12,000 for a path along Queen Victoria Street from Whakarewa Street; $5316 for one and possibly two security cameras; and $12,000 for an upgrade to the footpath for about 400 metres north from 559 High Street South to link with the existing footpath near Toad Hall.

Board members agreed that, although the decisions on how this budget would be spent had been very tortuous for this its first year, in future work will be done from July onward to get decisions made much faster.

Riwaka Cemetery front fence:  The board approved a request by the Riwaka Cemetery Trustees for $500 of discretionary funds to assist with the cleaning and painting of the front fence, which needs urgent maintenance and is looked after by volunteers.

Renaming High Street North:  The section of State Highway 60 between Staples Street and the river bridge, currently called High Street North, will change its name to help avoid confusion for service and emergency response providers.

The residents will be given a vote between Pounamu Drive, promoted by Wakatu Inc to reflect tangata whenua interest in the area, and Lyndhurst Drive, recommended by Wilkins and Staples family interests through the name of an historic farm in the area. The result of the vote will then be put as a recommendation to the Tasman District Council for its decision.

Undergrounding power lines:  As part of the work that has been done over the past month or so on facilities running beneath High Street south of the business strip, Network Tasman has placed ducts beneath the surface in preparation for the undergrounding of the power lines along that stretch of the road.

The lines supplier Network Tasman last year indicated it was looking at placing these unsightly power lines underground when money can be found, so putting the ducts in place will mean this will be easier to do and will not involve the road being bug up yet again.


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