Campers offered freedom (+poll)

By John Cousins

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Tight restrictions controlling where people can freedom camp in Tauranga are to be abolished under far-reaching proposals agreed by the council.

A maximum of 90 self-contained motor homes will be allowed to park up overnight on 28 city reserves - a huge shift up from the 15 currently permitted on five reserves.

The council's plan would also see downtown carparks opened up, such as Tauranga downtown's Harington St carpark, Mount Maunganui downtown's Phoenix carpark and the Greerton Village Shopping Centre's carpark.

Yesterday's meeting also relaxed the previous ban on overnight parking on city roads but with rules to prevent freedom campers parking directly in front of houses and commercial premises.

"This is the day we roll out the welcome on our fair city," councillor Larry Baldock said.

The draft bylaw goes out for public consultation with a decision expected in time for the new rules to take effect for the summer holidays. Each reserve would be allowed between two and six freedom campers depending on the size and parking spaces.

The only roadsides where certified motor homes will be permanently banned are Pilot Bay and the Main Beach section of Marine Parade from Adams Ave to Banks Ave.

Other proposals designed to stop the proliferation of motor homes parking up on city streets were that they had to be under 3.5 tonnes and must stay within "formed and marked carparks". This, together with the rule preventing them from parking directly in front of houses, effectively excluded motor homes from most neighbourhoods.

The same roadside parking rules were proposed to apply to council-owned arterial and collector roads like Cameron Rd, Otumoetai Rd, lower Pyes Pa Rd, Oceanbeach Rd, Ohauiti Rd, Grange Rd and Levers Rd.

They will not be allowed to park up on roadsides where the speed limit is over 50km/h, although the 3.5 tonne weight limit has been lifted in reserves and commercial streets.

The council also agreed that freedom campers could only stay in one location for a maximum of two nights a month. This did not stop them shifting around different city locations within the month.

Yesterday's recommendations were the result of new laws introduced by the Government for the Rugby World Cup in which councils had to change their thinking to a more permissive regime in which they had to say where freedom campers were not allowed instead of where they were allowed.

The council initially looked at allowing freedom camping on Pilot Bay and the Main Beach end of Marine Parade outside of the summer holiday period but opted to ban it completely. Motor homes will be allowed to park up along the rest of Marine Parade except for the holiday period from Boxing Day to Waitangi Day.

"That is a special environment. If you loosen the rules too much there will be problems," councillor Terry Molloy said.


 

- Bay of Plenty Times

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