Is the wastewater Capable of Connection Fee (CCF) fair, and if councils can set the rate will they be willing to consider changing it? Seems unlikely as Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith says the CCF is a growth policy borne out of ongoing development, and is ‘part of Mangawhai’s growing pains which we all feel’.
Smith says he has been working closely on the CCF matter over the last couple of months including having ‘some frank discussions’ with people who feel aggrieved at having to pay for a service which passes near their property.
“Among other things I’ve made two long phone calls of 45 minutes each to a gentleman who has been affected by the leaping growth of Mangawhai,” he says.
“I’ve heard him clearly, understand the situation and I feel for the guy. However, there’s little council can do as there’s a ‘growing pains’ effect on properties from the actions of developers nearby.
“For this person the choices of a developer along the road meant that his property is now within the perimeter of the town’s wastewater network, when it had not been for years. Even though his property currently has a good septic tank system, the rapid growth of Mangawhai and choices of developers mean there’s an additional wastewater option now available – to be able to connect to the wastewater system – which now passes near his property.
“Also, any subdivision of the property from now on would automatically be able to connect to the wastewater network – a benefit for that section and the wider Mangawhai Harbour and estuary environment.”
Smith also says council decisions made today are for the current and the future people of the place, although ‘the future people in Mangawhai will have a different town from what current people do’, and the processes of property development are key to what this transition will be, which is why KDC takes care with this growth work.
“The policy of Kaipara Council to continue expanding the network that’s led by developers is the least cost approach to putting in important infrastructure, it’s the best policy approach which is why it’s used. However, the overall system is imperfect because the growth is irregular and doesn’t roll section by section across open landscapes. It leaps, it is uneven.
“It’s neither sensible nor economic for council to simply put in pipes and roads and hope that future developers will arrive and fill in the parts of the map where we’ve already laid pipes; instead, growth is led by developers.
“Developers make choices about where, when and what any development may be, and work within the Council District Plan rules, to make that happen. This can mean that growth leap-frogs across some properties but those properties are then capable of connecting to the wastewater system.
“If there were a different, Stalin-esque style of highly-controlled and prescribed growth where developments rolled out evenly across the landscape house by house, then it would save the kind of concerns being raised about CCF, but we have a market-led system where developers enjoy making popular places like Mangawhai more popular with independent developments and subdivisions.
“Being the fastest growing small coastal town in the North Island, Mangawhai helps make Kaipara District a high-growth district. It therefore has policy challenges about how best to pay for new infrastructure. Not all councils have such challenges off a low-ratepayer base. KDC is using the best approaches here.”
“The policy of Kaipara Council to continue expanding the network that’s led by developers is the least cost approach to putting in important infrastructure, it’s the best policy approach which is why it’s used.”
- Jason Smith, Kaipara mayor