Angry Westridge residents have decided to look at legal options to stop their semi-rural neighbourhood becoming a busy through road for a proposed new Tauranga housing estate.
Hostility to the plan led to two signs being put up under the cover of darkness on Saturday night protesting at the proposal and how it contradicted previous Tauranga City Council promises.
An action group of Westridge residents met yesterday to decide on the next step in their battle against the council's option to use Westridge Drive to access the subdivision.
The council is using corner-cutting Special Housing Area legislation to fast-track the process to open up Smiths Farm which it bought as part of the Route K land purchases.
Residents' spokesman Doug Hendry said homeowners had relied on the written promise made in 2004 that Westridge Drive would not be used to access Smiths Farm.
This was when the farm was earmarked for sports fields - the council had since decided it did not need the farm for sport. People had bought their homes knowing about this arrangement that cars would not be put through Westridge, he said.
Yesterday's meeting also discussed how the Special Housing Area legislation was aimed at property developers. It appeared there could be a conflict of interest for the council to use the act to hasten development on land it owned. One of the development options facing the council at its December 15 meeting was to develop 240 homes on 15ha of Smiths Farm.
Mr Hendry said residents were not opposed to a 240-home subdivision, only the thousands of cars it would put on to Westridge Drive each day.
He understood the council was not looking at making a final decision on December 15, but to proceed to the next stage of the investigation. However, residents were still alarmed that the council was looking at ramming through a change of zoning, with a September 2016 deadline or it would lose the ability to use the Special Housing Act and have to rely on the slower Resource Management Act.
An emerging issue was the danger posed by the huge increase in traffic at the intersection with Cambridge Rd if Westridge Drive was chosen. It was the section of Cambridge Rd that acted as a heavy traffic link between SH2 and SH29, whereas building a new access up to the St Andrews Drive roundabout was on the section of Cambridge Rd banned to trucks.
Smiths Farm Facts
Rating valuation 2012: $7.3 million
Total area: 41.65ha
Yield from 15ha development area: 180 to 240 sections