Graeme Heard's father milked cows until the 1950s on their Irongate Rd farm.
On the outskirts of Hastings, its fruit trees are in blossom on the quiet road, a lot quieter since the Hawke's Bay Expressway cut the road in two several years ago.
Ten years ago the farm was zoned Deferred Industrial 2 Zone, allowing dry light industry.
The 40ha industrial zone needs 20 per cent of the first stage to be developed - 28ha of 70ha - before the council will build water, drainage, sewage and road infrastructure.
Until then any development must pay for its own on-site water, sewage and stormwater costs and must also pay a contribution for the future council-built infrastructure.
Neighbour and Hastings District Councillor John Roil is no stranger to battling his own council over his building business and nearby land developments. He has gone into bat again, not happy about development contribution cost escalations.
In 2005 he developed a family property with development contributions of $8.50 per sq m. He said contributions were now in excess of $54 per sq m ($540,000 ha) based on a 5000sq m shed built on a site and required to connect to council reticulated services.
"Council has informed the landowners that any extra revenue gathered over the development will be returned, however extra revenue from Development Contributions has never been returned to developers anywhere in Hastings," he said.
"In 2005 the development contribution cost was $85,000/ha. If we developed the property today, it could now cost $540,000 or greater if building sizes are larger. That's just ridiculous and it is stalling economic development, as it's too expensive."
Collier International real estate manager Rob Nankervis has 8.55ha for sale in the zone but said high council fees were a barrier to development.
"There is a lot of demand for greenfield sites but we do have a lot of areas like Whakatu, which is quite a good area to go to." he said.
Mr Roil said Whakatu, zoned for wet industries because of its substantial sewer line built for freezing works decades ago, was a strategic asset wasted on dry developments.
"Because Hastings District Council hasn't been unable to unlock Irongate we have had dry industries going out there for 10 years on a resource which should be protected. Council's perspective is, 'Well we can tell people where not to go'."
Mr Nankervis said Mr Roil was "very tenacious" in getting approval for a change of zoning on the eastern side of Maraekakaho Rd, the current Waipak factory, outside the Irongate industrial area.
Being outside the zone meant it paid no developer's contribution to council infrastructure. Sewage was processed using a sophisticated septic tank, water was from a bore and stormwater drained on to the gravelly ground, the former bed of the Ngaruroro River.
Six kilometres along the Expressway from Irongate Rd, opposite the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park, Delegat's is building a winery. It is self-servicing. On Elwood Rd, the New Zealand New Water's bottling plant is also under construction. It is self-servicing.
At Irongate, the council was charging for "gold-plated" infrastructure and should look at some degree of self-servicing.
Soak-hole drains were permitted at the council's other recent industrial zone at Omahu Rd and why not take water from on-site bores? The council's water came from the same aquifer.
Sewage was not such an issue.
"At some stage the council will have a pressurised pipe into town and they said stage one is something like $600,000. That's probably not much of an issue because that is probably quite affordable."
Irongate landowner Bruce Stephenson said other service charges were "profiteering".
"They are trying to enforce us to pay for services that aren't needed to the level its consultants recommend," he said.
"Not only that but they will actually cover the cost of putting in these services for the entire industrial zone at stage one but will then charge property owners the same for the second stage. That's double dipping."
"We will be forced to pay the extortionate development contribution fees that covers the cost of providing services to both stages. That's just unfair. Many of us have been paying rates for over 40 years and have seen no council-improved services in the area during that time."
The landowners have called on the council to ignore an independent report by Beca, saying it sought to justify high infrastructure costs rather than holistic solutions to lower council-development fees.
"If we believe what the report says the costs for services will be $5.6 million or $200,000 per hectare - an average of 28ha in stage one - and some of our properties already have these services or are capable of self-servicing which has being accepted during recent Resource Consent applications," landowner Dave Healey said.
"We believe that the council is best to make it a single stage of 70 hectares, instead of 28 hectares and this would make it far more affordable at $80,000 per hectare. This will then attract interest from businesses to set up in the area."
Proposed service plans were "ludicrous", such as drawing water from Flaxmere and an "over the top" kerb and channel road system and stormwater disposal.
Mr Roil said the water provision was already in place at nearby Stock Rd, with 85 per cent paid by the Hawke's Bay District Health Board to provide healthy water at Bridge Pa.
A July Proposed Hastings District Plan report on the Irongate Industrial Area by Independent Commissioners said because Irongate developers would have to pay for both self-servicing and development contributions, until the 20 per cent threshold was reached and the council provided services, development was unlikely.
"We cannot envisage any developer or investor of sound mind pursuing a development in such circumstances," the report said. "We cannot see how the land in the Deferred General Industrial Zone could ever reach the 20 per cent threshold.
"It is a chicken-and-egg situation in which no one (in our view) will be willing to play 'financial chicken'."
Hastings District Council chief executive Ross McLeod said landowners looking to reduce development contributions was to be expected.
"There are two components that make up the cost of serviced industrial land - the cost of services such as sewerage, and the price of land. In effect, every dollar off the cost of servicing is another dollar in the pocket of the landowner or developer," he said.
It was council policy that the development community paid for infrastructure to service new projects, to prevent it falling on all ratepayers.
"Council's role is to make sure the costs of development are allocated based on robust policy.
"At the moment council's policy is for the development community to meet the full costs of servicing industrial land.
"Council has, however, signalled that it will review this policy over the next nine months as it seeks to support employment growth in the region. If the development community does not meet the full costs, ratepayers will have to meet the shortfall."
He refuted the required level of infrastructure was "gold-plated".
"It is based on Councils Code of Practice and NZS 4404 national standards for the type of subdivision, and meets codes of compliance around things like firefighting and storm-water rules.
"When some landowners have criticised council's infrastructure costing, they are comparing back-of-the-envelope estimates against a fully costed and designed proposal."
He said the Beca report was commissioned to address landowner concerns and the council had committed "to investigating further ways to get the cost of the infrastructure down".
"The cost of any infrastructure that will benefit both the first and second stages of Irongate has been split between the two areas to account for that.
"It is correct to say that the cost of infrastructure has gone up markedly in the last 10 years. Some of the drivers behind the cost increases include the move to totally user pays, rising material costs, an increase in standards such as firefighting requirements and rising environmental standards."
He said the current plan went through a full consultation process.
"If there is to be any major change, that will again require full consultation with the wider public.
"Ultimately, council wants cost-effective industrial-zoned land that includes infrastructure that meets required standards. To achieve that council has to take into consideration the future needs of potential users, and current and future environmental and regulatory needs. Putting in permanent services linked to the district's wider services is considered the most cost-effective and environmentally responsible way to do this."
Property consultant Pat Turley said a $54 per sq m land development contribution rate was high for Hawke's Bay, relative to most mid-scale serviced industrial land values. For land equivalent to Irongate, land values averaged from about $70 per sq m .
"Relatively high development levies at Irongate seem contrary to the Hastings District Council industrial land zoning decision for Irongate, that was to encourage and enable Hastings land development by industry."