The one positive to emerge from the awful Bella Vista Homes saga has been the community's support for the affected homeowners.

Tauranga councillors this week voted in principle to buy 21 Bella Vista Homes which were part of the failed subdivision at the lakes.

It was the right call. It recognises the homeowners have been caught up in a disaster, not of their making. It also shows the council is taking responsibility for its failings.

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Justice Paul Heath QC outlined in an independent report that the council dealt adequately with resource consent applications. However, it failed in other areas, including its monitoring and enforcement functions under the Resource Management Act in relation to the geotechnical aspects of the intended construction works.

The toll on the homeowners, who council evacuated from their homes amid safety fears, has been enormous.

On Wednesday they got the chance to tell elected officials about the impact it had on their lives.

"Nightmare" was the word they used most often to describe their situations.

In more than an hour of emotional presentations, they told how, after years of consent and building delays, their lives were turned upside down on March 9 when the council evacuated the houses in the Lakes development as Cyclone Hola approached.

They talked about how in the three months that followed, their health suffered, relationships strained, children traumatised, pets upset and their plans - to grow their families, to settle down, to progress their careers - were put on hold as they moved constantly.

Their plight has struck a chord with readers - who perhaps recognised this could have happened to anyone.

On social media, people expressed support for the council's decision to buy the homes while also questioning how it all came to pass.

"It really was the only decision to be made," one person commented.

Of course, it's not over yet for the homeowners - they still have to negotiate the details of the sale of their homes to the council.

And the council has to work out a way to ensure a saga like this never happens again.

In the independent report, Justice Heath QC said there needed to be inquiry or investigation into "why" the council failed to perform adequately relevant regulatory functions.

We need answers to that question as soon as possible.