Rotorua Lakes Council has moved to reassure Ngongotaha residents the village's infrastructure will be able to cope with a proposed housing development - but some remain unconvinced.
Council officers hosted a public meeting in Ngongotaha last night to explain the Special Housing Accord (SHA) process to residents.
It follows a meeting last Thursday led by residents concerned about a 190-home development at 31 Ngongotaha Rd, which is being fast-tracked under Rotorua's SHA.
It is one of two proposed SHA developments in the village. The other would have 120 homes if it went ahead.
The council's operations group manager, Henry Weston, and strategy group manager Jean-Paul Gaston as well as the general manager of Maori, Gina Rangi, spoke at the hui, attended by about 100 people.
Gaston said houses were needed in Rotorua as the district grew.
"There has been a lag of new homes being built as our population has begun to take off."
Gaston said the council was looking at what came next in terms of growth.
The first development has been recommended for approval by the council as a special housing area and was sent to the housing minister for consideration at the end of last week.
The second, north of the Waiteti Stream, is only at the first stage, with an application received by the council. The next step is for the Resource Management Act Committee to consider the application before sending it to the full council.
An hour of heated questioning followed the council's presentation as residents raised concerns around traffic, schools, storm and wastewater and more.
They asked how traffic was going to be controlled and what the development would look like in terms of density. The council staff said that would all be addressed in more detail further down the line.
One resident said they felt Ngongotaha was the "guinea pig" for SHAs in Rotorua.
She was "disgusted" no council elected members were present, except councillor Raj Kumar.
Gaston said the finer details of the development would be worked out at the consent stage, after the housing minister approved it.
But, the council was confident the infrastructure was either up to scratch, or there was the ability to bring it up to scratch, he said.
"I think some of the fears were how quickly would this happen ... The first home, at the earliest it could possibly arrive would be 12 months. And that would be incredibly fast," Gaston said.
"Generally we're looking at houses being built over a number of years."
He said there would be enough time to make decisions about whether current schools needed new classrooms.
"These things don't happen overnight."
Other residents were disappointed they hadn't had the chance to object to the application before it went to the minister. "Write to the minister" a woman shouted several times.
Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers secretary Reynold Macpherson, who chaired the first meeting, asked: "How can we object when it's gone to the minister? Is it only by writing?"
He said when it came to the consent process he was concerned only the landowners immediately affected would be notified.
"Why is that right? It can't be?"
Other residents were worried they hadn't had a chance to object to the SHAs and wouldn't further down the line.
If a development is approved as an SHA a decision on whether it will be notified will be made. Notification would be limited to adjoining landowners, relevant local authorities and infrastructure providers with assets on, under or over the land or adjacent land.
Another resident said a village with rural character was a "funny place" for high-density housing.
One person was concerned about the traffic an extra 190 homes would generate.
"The village is already chock-a-block. There's going to be a bottleneck in the village even with extra roading."
Gaston said the New Zealand Transport Agency had also been consulted with about the proposals.
1. Application sent to Rotorua Lakes Council for a Special Housing Area.
2. Rotorua Lakes Council's Resource Management Act Committee considers the application. Recommends its approval or decline.
3. If approval is recommended, the application goes to the full council for consideration.
4. Council either recommends decline or approval.
5. The application is sent to the Minister of Housing for consideration.
6. The application goes back to the council to go through the consent process including a decision to notify land owners or not, hearings and a final decision.