Campaigners trying to stop the sale of a picturesque Takitimu Drive greenbelt received important information from the Tauranga City Council only two hours before they put their case to councillors yesterday.
Fifth Ave resident Barry Coghlan told the meeting that the council had 'stalled' in responding to questions lodged under the Official Information Act six months earlier.
The answers arrived just two hours before 45 residents of Edgecumbe Rd and the Avenues crowded the council chamber yesterday to present a petition signed by more than 1000 people.
The response contained "important stuff", including a 1988 environmental impact report and a 1995 council decision not to sell the land along Takitimu Drive.
"Why was it not given to us six months ago and not an hour or two before the meeting," Mr Coghlan said.
However, he did not get an answer because the presentation of the petition was not part of the official business of the meeting.
It had been earlier reported the council extended the timeframe for responding to Mr Coghlan because one of the requests required substantial collation dating back to 1988.
Mr Coghlan said a quarter of Central Tauranga's green space was the greenbelt from 3rd Ave to 11th Ave, including the land that would be lost from a sale.
The 1995 decision not to sell the greenbelt was seconded at the time by then councillor Mary Dillon who was one of yesterday's speakers.
Mrs Dillon gave councillors a history lesson on the "fraught" planning process that preceded construction of Takitimu Drive. It was at a time when relationships were tense with Maori. "Tangata whenua were not at all keen that the road went through."
Mrs Dillon said the decision in 1995 not to sell the green space had created a beautiful area and a much more pleasant motorway into the city. She believed it would be shortsighted to sell the green space when SmartGrowth's settlement pattern review included work on making Tauranga a compact city.
"The community does not want you to do it."
The council agreed this year to revisit the $28 million surplus-land sale plan adopted in 2012 which included the parcels along Takitimu Drive.
Mayor Stuart Crosby said after the meeting the review was looking at the cost benefits of selling each property or group of properties. If small sites had a lot of legal encumbrances, it could end up costing more to overcome these obstacles than what the council got back from a sale.
The land sale review was due in September.
Takitimu Drive proposed land sales
Total Land area: Approximately 1 hectare
Current Value: About $2 million
Lots of land: Minimum of seven properties