A multimillion-dollar stormwater project in Marlborough has been given the green light, with a four-year conflict between the council and residents finally resolved.
Residents living near a Blenheim creek tried to block the council discharging more stormwater into the waterway, on the grounds it would lead to rubbish in the creek, fish life suffering, and properties flooding.
The council wanted resource consent to discharge the water to accommodate future residential developments, including the new Rose Manor subdivision in Springlands.
A working group of residents, businesses, iwi members and scientists worked on a solution for a year, after the Cawthron Institute told the council it had alienated the community.
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It was the first time the Marlborough District Council used the scientific institute to liaise with residents, after discussions proved fruitless.
“Cawthron identified among other things that council had generated an unhealthy degree of mistrust among its stakeholders,” a report prepared for the council said.
Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said the 12-month process took longer than expected, but it was worth it to find a solution.
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“We’ve got a real drive now to make sure that we protect our natural waterways.”
Construction work on the 190-section Rose Manor subdivision is due to start in October.
The recommendation from the working group would limit runoff from newly rezoned land to the level it would have been if the land was zoned rural.
The working group’s idea was endorsed by the council’s assets and services committee at a meeting on Thursday, and would be discussed by the full council next month.
Kingwell Drive resident Pauline Davis said she was happy a compromise had been reached.
The creek ran along the back of her property, and she fed the trout and eels there.
About 25 per cent of the waterway ran through reserves, but other sections of the creek were very close to houses, she said.
“We are satisfied with the outcome.”
Runoff from businesses at the eastern end of Middle Renwick Rd would be filtered and treated, then diverted direct to the Taylor River.
There would be treatment costs included in the Murphy’s Rd stormwater upgrade to improve the quality of the water that goes into Murphy’s Creek.
Close to 50 families in the area were opposed to the increased stormwater discharge.
Resident Ross Inder said the community’s initial opposition boiled down to pollution. Those with properties closest to the Taylor River were also concerned about their properties flooding.
Funding for the project would be considered in next year’s review of the council’s long-term plan. The proposal was expected to cost up to $3.8 million.
The Cawthron Institute was commissioned in 2014 to carry out an ecological survey of the creek, preparing an inventory of all the technical information available and then presenting it to stakeholders.
It then worked on formulating a decision-making structure for the council, before the working group was set up in 2016.
Leggett was unsure how much money the council had spent on the process in total.
Chamber of Commerce representative Vicki Nalder, who also sat on the working group, said she was pleased with the outcome. After visiting the site, where the creek ran very close to properties, Nalder better understood the residents’ concerns, she said.
“The easy option [from a commercial point of view] is always to put the water in the creek and move on, but it wasn’t practical to do that.”
DeLuxe Group was developing the subdivision. Managing director Greg Smith could not be reached for comment on the weekend.