Concerns that Ahipara had lost the opportunity to object to a proposal to turn the former Baylinks Motel into permanent transitional, or emergency housing, prompted a public meeting at the golf club on Wednesday, but turned out to be incorrect.
Mayor John Carter and district councillor Felicity Foy told the meeting that the planning process had just begun, and no decision had yet been made regarding whether the application would be publicly notified, partly notified or not notified at all. That decision would be made by a council planning officer.
If there was sufficient public interest, Mr Carter added, the submissions to the application could be heard by an independent council commissioner.
Cr Foy told the meeting that she had told the consultant planner who was examining the proposal that she could expect a flood of emails, and urged those who had an opinion to express to make their views known.
The meeting also saw the launch of a petition opposing the application, organiser Pauline Bishop saying she hoped to collect at least 500 signatures by early this week.
The bad news for critics, Cr Foy added, was that some of the concerns that had already been expressed, such as a potential effect of the proposal on property values, the "type of people" who might make use of the former motel and public safety, would not be relevant. Objections could only be lodged on the basis of issues such as footpathing, screening, parking or noise, although the process did allow for the consideration of special circumstances.
Ahipara resident Jaqi Brown said the application represented a significant change of use, however, and it would be have been "tika" for the applicant to explain to those who would be affected what was planned. She also questioned whether the former motel would be suitable for families, as proposed, given the size of the units.
Peter Furze, who chaired last week's meeting, urged the community to keep abreast of the issue via the Ahipara Whanau Facebook page, while Mr Carter encouraged continued communication between the community and the council.
"Having people in the community telling us what is going on is always helpful," he said, "and the more the community does now the more input you will have, and the better the outcome will be."