Council 'gets the message' to retain Omokoroa reserves

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Omokoroa Harbour. Photo/File
Omokoroa Harbour. Photo/File

Western Bay of Plenty District Council has decided against selling reserve land in Omokoroa following strong objection from the community.

The council received 148 submissions on its review of the Kaimai Reserve Management Plan, of which about 85 percent were from the Omokoroa community.

Many Omokoroa submissions objected to the part in the plan referring to the council's option to investigate divesting itself of reserve land that was no longer required for utility purposes.

Residents stressed the importance of reserves being retained to protect the natural beauty and stunning views of Omokoroa.

With the increase in development on the peninsula, residents said retaining recreational areas was vital to guard against reserve land being sold into private hands and potentially developed into housing.

Western Bay Mayor Ross Paterson said the strength of opposition had left councillors in no doubt it was not an option to include the divestment option in the final plan.

Although the plan was not due to be formally adopted until September and the councillors had yet to meet for final decision workshops, Mr Paterson said he wanted to put the Omokoroa community at ease over the issue immediately.

"Omokoroa is experiencing renewed growth and the people have told us how important it is to see reserves retained.

"They have told us that reserves are their pieces of paradise where birdlife can thrive, where people can enjoy places to walk, picnic, relax and play today and in the future.

"We clearly got the message that reserves are treasures people do not want council to tamper with and that they are a necessary component to a community's healthy lifestyle. We have listened to the community and give our assurance that this council will not divest of reserve land in Omokoroa."

Mr Paterson said this was an example of how the public submission process could highlight issues of importance to the community.

The decision not to investigate the sale of reserve land was specific only to this review of the Kaimai Reserve Management Plan.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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