Ngongotaha residents have vowed to fight a 190-home development pegged for the area, saying it will congest roads, swamp the local school and destroy the village's character.
But Rotorua Lakes Council is satisfied with reports saying infrastructure in the area has the capacity to handle the development.
Emotions ran high on Thursday night as about 100 locals attended a public meeting about the development, led by residents Patricia Hosking and Donna Morgan and chaired by Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers secretary Reynold Macpherson.
The housing development, at 31 Ngongotaha Rd, is being fast-tracked under Rotorua's Special Housing Accord.
The council voted last month to recommend the site as a Special Housing Area to the housing minister.
The Accord, signed in August 2017, was designed to fast-track the consent process to allow houses to be built quickly. It was proposed to ease pressure on Rotorua's housing stock and address affordability issues.
However, in doing this it overrides the normal resource consent notification requirements and ability for the wider community to have input into decisions.
No appeals can be made to a judicial entity once a decision is made, but a judicial review can be sought.
Although many at the meeting recognised Rotorua's need for more houses, the implications of having 190 more homes in the area had some up in arms.
Others expressed support for building in the area, saying it was inevitable given Rotorua's "chronic housing shortage".
Resident and iwi representative Guy Ngatai told attendees he was deeply concerned iwi had not been consulted, claiming the land pegged for special housing area one (SHA1) contained an urupa (burial ground).
The Rotorua Daily Post asked the council for comment and a communications spokeswoman referred to an agenda for a March 15 extraordinary council meeting.
According to that agenda "there are no identified sites with significant archaeological, historic, ecological, landscape or cultural values located on the site".
Ngatai said the process in his view was "very insensitive ... It's autocratic, it's haphazard."
"We talk about tangata whenua – I don't care what they say about us not being able to contest it in environment court, we will go contest it with the support of the New Zealand Maori Council.
"It is disadvantaging our aspirations as tangata whenua and marginalising our moemoe (dreams). In no way will this have any direct advantage to me, my family or my future generations.
"Rotorua's motto is 'tatau tatau' which means 'us, we together'. This policy isn't talking about us. They should change the motto to 'mātau mātau' – which is them excluding us."
Resident Paul Khan seconded Ngatai's kaupapa, saying the council should "leave my ancestor's bones there and build somewhere else".
Hosking, whose farm is next to the proposed development, told the Rotorua Daily Post she felt it would destroy her rural lifestyle, make her land "unsellable" and destroy the village-feel of Ngongotaha.
"I feel totally overwhelmed and that my rights are being overridden."
Rotorua Lakes Community Board member Fred Stevens said locals had made it clear through public consultation on the spatial plan last year that they wished to maintain the village character of Ngongotaha.
"This development will do nothing for that. I feel that the council is really jumping the gun here."
However, in the Resource Management Act Policy Committee recommendation presented to the council on March 15, it states the proposed development is consistent with retaining the village feel of Ngongotaha.
"That there has been previous consultation on the expansion of residential areas within Ngongotaha, and specifically on this site, provides to our minds, an appropriate balance between meeting the need for additional homes with the community's reasonable expectations."
Some expressed concerns around how the village's infrastructure and school would cope with the potential influx of people.
Roading was a common concern, with one woman saying traffic was already a "nightmare" and there had been no indication of plans to fix this.
Clay Gulliver said he understood the city's population was growing but, in his opinion, the council's solution to the growth was a "major knee-jerk reaction".
"I don't believe dense housing like this is suitable for Ngongotaha and while I'm not against developments in the area, they need to be done properly."
Olivia Booten, who runs Ngongotaha Early Learning Centre, questioned how Ngongotaha School would cope with the potential influx of students.
"Has any provision been made to build a new school to accommodate the extra children? Will our school have to build new classrooms, taking the play areas away from our children?"
Resident John Pakes said Ngongotaha was part of Rotorua and the city as a whole faced a chronic shortage of houses.
"We cannot divorce ourselves from the problem. The houses have to go somewhere. It's inevitable."
Ryan Gray said as a first-home buyer he had struggled to find a suitable property in the past two years.
He said this development would fit his needs perfectly.
"These days not everybody is looking for the quarter-acre dream - some people don't need all that. A tidy two-bedroom home would be perfect for me."
In the March 15 agenda, it states the council was satisfied services of water supply, wastewater, transport, stormwater and reserves had "additional capacity to accommodate the likely cumulative demand from a qualifying development/s".
It was also satisfied non-council infrastructure of state highways, network utilities and education had adequate infrastructure existing or planned.
The Ministry of Education has indicated Ngongotaha School has capacity on its roll.
In a statement, the council said it was currently dealing with two applications for Special Housing Accord status for planned housing developments in Ngongotaha, both from private developers.
"Ngongotaha is an area that has been flagged for further residential development as part of council's spatial plan. Extensive public consultation occurred pre-draft and then again on the draft plan and this will be finalised and adopted later this year."
The council will host a public meeting this Tuesday to give locals information about special housing areas at the Ngongotaha Bowling Club from 7pm.
Special Housing Area 1 - Ngongotaha Rd
- Following a decision by the council, this application will go to the minister for consideration.
- If approved by the minister, the next stage will be preparation and submission of a resource consent application by the applicant. This will necessitate notification which will provide adjacent landowners with an opportunity to comment.
- Special Housing Area 1 was included in the council's draft spatial plan which was consulted on last year.
Special Housing Area 2 - Hamurana
- This application will be subject to further deliberation by the RMA Policy Committee, as directed by the council.
- The RMA Policy Committee has since requested that the applicant undertake community consultation (including a public meeting) prior to the application being reconsidered.
- Rotorua Lakes Council