An outcry at a heated public meeting over plans for more moorings and a possible expansion of Opua Marina has prompted the Northland Regional Council to extend the submissions deadline by two more months.
Growing pressure on mooring and marina space around Northland's coast, especially in the Bay of Islands, prompted the council to come up with a Draft Mooring and Marinas Strategy setting out its ideas for coping with expected demand from boaties over the next 50 years. The strategy proposes new mooring areas and a "marina zone" allowing future expansion of Opua Marina.
The public's chance to have their say was to have closed on December 16 but has now been extended to February 28 following an apparent postal error which kept many Opua residents in the dark.
A public meeting at the Opua Cruising Club earlier this month was to have been a chance for locals to ask questions and get more information, but for some it was the first they had heard of the proposal. An Opua resident described the meeting as "farcical, volatile and hilarious".
Coastal policy specialist Ben Lee said the council had arranged to mail the draft strategy to all mooring holders in Northland as well as a leaflet drop to Bay of Islands residents.
However, due to a postal delivery error, many Opua residents had not received the leaflet last month as intended. Therefore councillors had decided to extend the submission period to 3pm on February 28.
Opua currently has a 240-berth marina and 583 swing moorings. The strategy proposes meeting predicted demand for a further 120 spaces by increasing density in existing mooring areas, creating new areas if required, and creating a "marina zone" covering the existing marina plus an area upstream and into the Kawakawa River. That could allow future expansion of the Far North Holdings-operated marina.
It also proposes new mooring areas in Waikare Inlet, Russell's Matauwhi Bay, Windsor Landing in Kerikeri Inlet, and Rawhiti's Te Uenga Bay. Te Puna Inlet and Waipiro Bay could be earmarked for possible future marinas or moorings.
Mr Lee said the strategy was developed over 18 months after consultation with residents, boating clubs, commercial and environmental interests, other local authorities, contractors and marina developers.
Information about the proposed strategy is available at www.nrc.govt.nz/haveyoursay or by contacting Michael Payne on 0800 002 004. The council is also planning a drop-in day at the Opua Cruising Club on February 10. Submissions already made will not be affected by the new deadline, but anyone who wants to withdraw a submission to take advantage of the extra time and resubmit it before the new closing date can do so.