17 January 2023
Media: NZME (Rotorua Daily Post and BOP Times)
Topic: Consenting and housing intensification rules
I'm touching base about the number of homes consented in November last year. A Stats NZ release from Jan 12 shows there were 168 total dwelling consents in November last year compared to 220 in November 2021.
I'm interested in the number of consents for multi-unit homes which has increased massively from 25 in Nov 21 to 74 in Nov 22, a 196% increase. This is across the whole region.
How many multi-unit homes did the council consent in November 2021 and November 2022?
Is the council able to provide a breakdown of which suburbs these consents took place in or provide a breakdown?
Can the council provide an update about where the legislation (if that's the right term) for being able to build a three-storey dwelling on most residential zones without consent?
From DCE District Development, Jean-Paul Gaston:
Number multi-unit homes consented:
November 2021 – Nil
November 2022 – 8 (4 BC applications – 2 units per application)
All 8 are in the Pukehangi Road area – new subdivision
The Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) came into effect on August 20, 2021.
The intention of the MDRS is to provide greater certainty and enable greater density of homes, provided a series of standards/rules are met. These standards include: outdoor areas, distance to boundary and height up to three storeys. If the standards are met a resource consent is not required.
Since the MDRS came into effect in Rotorua, we are seeing increasing interest in property owners using the standards to place a second dwelling on an existing property, rather that three-story developments.
The standards in conjunction with the design guidance are intended to ensure that new developments are well designed and don’t adversely impact on the community/neighbours.
The other changes Council is also proposing to the District Plan (Plan Change 9):
- Introducing a High Density Residential Zone to enable more people to live in areas with access to amenities and employment through active and public transport modes. This will involve amendments across all urban zones to align development heights and densities with the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (2020).
- Enabling increased development density in the Commercial and City Centre Zones by enabling a greater height in these locations.
- Amending rules for papakāinga development to make these developments easier to do and enable papakāinga to occur in both urban and rural areas;
- Amendments to better manage flood risk and geothermal hazards;
- Amendments to ensure protection of heritage values of cultural heritage features to protect these from inappropriate subdivision and development;
- Setting of financial contributions from development for reserves (NOTE: this does not refer to Development Contributions).
Media: NZME (Rotorua Daily Post and BOP Times)
Topic: Abandoned cars
I am writing a story about the number of abandoned cars in the Rotorua Lakes district each year. particularly those that end up being trashed and stripped of registration plates, tyres and other valuables especially on our local roads, highways and near people's driveways and so on.
I am investigating the safety and environmental impacts, who is responsible for removing them, the annual costs of doing so and who pays.
My questions are as follows:
Q1. Can you tell me how many abandoned/wrecked vehicles were reported to Rotorua Lakes Council last year and how does that compare to the previous 12 months?
Q2. Who is actually responsible for removing them, what is the expected timeframe to do so, and plus the annual cost to do so?
Q3. How many of those vehicles ended up being removed by the council's contractors in 2021 and 2022, and what was the total cost for each of those two years? And who is the council's vehicle removal contractor?
Q4. How much of the removal costs were paid for by Rotorua Lakes ratepayers and how much was recovered from the owners of these vehicles?
Q5. Can vehicle owners be fined and also incur a removal charge for illegal dumping of vehicles? if so, please elaborate.
Q6. Has there been a recent increase in abandoned/ wrecked cars turning up in the district? if so, by how much?
Q7. What are some of the worst hotspots for abandoned vehicles?
Q8. What is the council's appeal to the community about this concerning topic?
Please note that the information provided by RLC below (in red) refers only to abandoned vehicles reported to RLC and dealt with by RLC. RLC deals only with abandoned vehicles on local roads. As you are aware, Waka Kotahi is responsible for state highways and for the removal of abandoned vehicles from along state highways.
Abandoned Vehicle on Local Road
2021 – 136
2022 - 187
Abandoned Vehicle on Reserve
2021 – 13
2022 – 20
Abandoned Vehicle on State Highway
2021 – 12
2022 – 19
Q2: Council is responsible for suspected abandoned vehicles on Local Roads or Council Reserves - A Council officer will check the vehicle within 1½ working days of receiving the information, and will start the procedure required by the Local Government Act 1974.
Waka Kotahi is responsible for suspected abandoned vehicles on State Highways. This includes Old Taupo Road, Sala Street, Te Ngae Road, Ngongotaha Road and Amohau Street which fall as a State Highway.
Q3: If the owner can be found they pay or are subsequently billed for the cost of removal but Council bears the cost if the owner cannot be found which would be if, for instance, the vehicle has been stripped of number plates and serial numbers or is burnt-out.
Number of vehicles removed and cost of this:
2021 – 10 vehicles removed from roadside - $1,633.00
2022 – 22 vehicles removed from roadside - $5,539.50
Council’s removal contractor for removing an abandoned vehicle is Rotorua Towing Services.
Q4: Reporter was advised that our finance team would need more time to provide a figure re how much of the total paid by council for the removal of abandoned vehicles (see info provided for Q3) has been recovered as this requires going through our records and collating the info for you.
Q4: Council pays its contractor for towing of any abandoned vehicles. If the vehicle owners are known, council will then bill the owners to cover the cost of towing.
Q5: Anyone who abandons a vehicle in a public place may be prosecuted for breaching legislation and bylaws. The owner of an unwarranted and/or unregistered vehicle abandoned in a public place may receive a fine. An abandoned vehicle can be a hazard to other road users, and can create pollution through losing vehicle fluids into the stormwater system.
Q6: See Q1
Q7: There are no noticeable hotspots for abandoned vehicles in the Rotorua district.
Q8: Vehicles owners are responsible for ensuring their vehicles are legally roadworthy and if they become inoperable, are legally responsible for removing them from the street/road and disposing of them to keep our streets and roads kept safe and clean.
Media: NZME (Rotorua Daily Post and BOP Times)
Does the council have the number of potholes it repaired in 2022 total on hand?
As the tally for 2022 had to be collated and we were not certain that could be completed by the deadline the reporter had set, we provided some initial comment and information while that collation was underway.
Response from DCE Infrastructure and Environmental Solutions, Stavros Michael:
We expect the final count for the 2022 year to be about 1300 potholes in our network of more than 1000kms.
We provided information re causes of potholes back in October. (This has been provided below from the October response to save you time)
MetService notes (see below) that 2022 was the wettest in 30 years, contributing to the formation of potholes.
To provide context, our roading network provides sealed surfaces totalling 15,000,000 to 20,000,000m2. The average pothole is about 0.09m2 so roughly about 100-120m2 of road surfaces failed and potholes were created. This represents about 0.0005% of all sealed surfaces.
MetService takes a look back at 'wet, warm' 2022 (3:52 pm on 2 January 2023)
Information provided previously re potholes
IMPORTANT NOTE: The data provided refers to repairs on any type of undulation so it wouldn’t be accurate to say that the totals for each year are the total number of what people typically refer to as potholes for those years.
Our classification of a ‘pothole’ refers to any undulation on the road surface which could be as little as 25mm (loss of surface chip) or as deep as 100mm, which is what most people would classify as a typical ‘pothole’.
Re cost: Pothole repairs are covered under a lump sum payment for the contract which, as well as pothole repairs, also includes detritus sweeping, grate clearance, minor drainage maintenance, bridge inspections, detritus removal on cycleways and footpaths. Separate data on potholes cannot be extracted.
Re causes of undulations or potholes and why some areas are more prone to damage:
- Weather patterns i.e. extreme rainfall penetrating road surfaces and creating hydraulic pressure due to traffic loading which pops up a small chunk of seal creating a surface dip.
- Icy temperatures where water in the voids of the road surface becomes ice which then expands and pushes up the road surface.
- Utilities trenching works where the resealing joints allow water to penetrate the surface and soften the subsurface causing loss of the seal membrane.
- Residential construction works also create the necessity for the installation of utilities which can result in the trenching effect.
Most road surface damage is due to water ingress inside the road pavement and we’ve had a lot of rainfall in recent months. Rainfall events are becoming more frequent and more severe and generally, we can expect more road damage during winter months when we tend to have more rain. That’s also the time of year when conditions are less favourable for repairing road damage.
We subsequently provided the total number of potholes repaired during the 2022 calendar year:
Total for 2022: 1418
Media: Rotorua Daily Post
Topic: Deaths in Whakarewarewa Forest
I am writing a story about the RMB First Response Unit who have said the question of if there have been any deaths in the forest as a result of injury from rec activities needs to come to council - can I please be advised if this is the case or if someone is able to say if there have been any in the last five years?
We referred the reporter to the police, noting the police deal with deaths, including any deaths in the forest and Council is not necessarily notified.
We also noted that deaths may occur not just from injuries but from medical events such as heart attacks and suggested the police may be able to provide official insights into the causes of any deaths in the forest.