Tainui urged to make peace

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Two Hamilton City Councillors are calling on Tainui to meet with Ruakura residents affected by the proposed inland port development.

Dave Macpherson and Margaret Forsyth want to see Tainui Group Holdings management work with Percival Road residents to come up with a solution that works for all parties.

"For God's sake sit down and work something out that you can live with and that they [the residents] can live with," said Mr Macpherson. "Do a favour to the community." He said Tainui would want "to do other things in the city" and creating animosity with the Ruakura residents did nothing for the corporate's image.

Margaret said pressure needed to be "put back on Tainui to be solution focused". "I've said all along I can't see why it can't be a win-win for all parties. I'm just asking for compromise and having some empathy for all those involved. I've seen countless examples of how the big guy tries to stamp all over the little guy. It doesn't work. Our values are changing."

The councillors are frustrated at the council's planning unit's failure to consult with residents over zoning changes to the Percival Rd residents' land and to surround their country lifestyle residences with a large-scale freight operation.

Bill Cowie, spokesperson for the 30 families affected by the proposal, said the group had engaged lawyers and planners in Auckland should the issue head to the Environment Court. However, Mr Cowie conceded an Environment Court hearing would be a last resort. "It would be very costly and TGH and Hamilton City Council have bigger pockets than we'll ever have."

Mr Macpherson feels the Proposed District Plan was "rushed through" before Christmas and says parts of Tainui's proposal concerning zoning could have been removed to be dealt with separately.

Neither councillor is opposed to the inland port, saying it will be a huge boost to the region's economy. The development is expected to create 6000-10,000 jobs. But Mr Macpherson and Ms Forsyth want to see a solution reached with residents without having the issue battled out in court.

TGH chief executive Mike Pohio said he hadn't been approached by council to negotiate with residents. He said Tainui would ensure the inland port would be "an asset, not a liability" and that the perception that residents would be living next to a grimy, dirty industrial zone was false.

Percival Road residents are asking for a 40m greenbelt and 4m earthen bund around the rural lifestyle area which Mr Cowie said would offer some visual protection from "straddle cranes, lighting towers, forklifts and shunting operations".

Mr Cowie said councillors had been supportive of the residents. "The real power at city hall is the bureaucrats.

"We are supportive of the [inland port] concept but why should we be collateral damage?"

- Hamilton News

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