Cromwell fights CODC over airport expansion plans - "We won't be dictated to."
The decision to allow 28 aircraft hangars at the Cromwell aerodrome, where there are currently three hangars, has triggered community complaints.
There are plans for residents to meet over the weekend and the Mayor of Central Otago District Council, Tim Cadogan, has said he will meet with anyone who wants to discuss the issue at the Cromwell Council offices on Monday afternoon.
The Mayor defends the decision saying he’s had few complaints about it and that it is clear to people building or buying houses nearby that an aerodrome will have planes taking off and landing.
There appear to be three main issues being raised.
- One is about potential health, safety and other impacts of a decision that is likely to make the Cromwell aerodrome busier.
- Another is about the way the decision was made. Council accepted the recommendation of its ‘Airport Reference Group’ without asking for impact reports and without consulting the Cromwell community.
- The third issue is: why wasn’t this issue made a part of the current process to produce a long-term Masterplan for Cromwell?
On the first two, the rules don’t require Council to do more than they did. They can simply accept the recommendations presented to them. Which they have done – twice.
The first time was on June 27 at an infrastructure meeting with an item titled ‘Cromwell Aerodrome – Concept Plan for Future Development’. It is on the CODC website.
It says, among other things, that enquiries about hangar sites were increasing and two parties were standing by for ‘confirmation of site locations in order to proceed with a lease and construction’. It recommended authorising the CEO to grant leases, at the current rate of $2,800 plus GST per site per annum, for 25 more hangars to be built. The report also said ‘it is not considered that public consultation is required.’
Council agreed on all points and it is believed that lease requests are now awaiting the CEO’s attention.
Then, this week, the Cromwell Community Board protested loudly that it had not been consulted and that affected residents needed to have a say.
Board member Mr Robin Dicey said that while the Council has the right to do what it has done, both the Council and the Board had a duty of care responsibility for the people living near the aerodrome and a moral obligation to consult.
So it was revisited at the end of Wednesday’s Council meeting – with the same result.
'It’s our town, we won’t be dictated to by the CODC,’ Mr Dicey said.
Mr Dicey who has previously used the landing strip to land his own light aircraft, says it is in the wrong place.
‘Towns and airports don’t mix.’
In a Facebook post yesterday the Mayor addressed the Masterplan question. He wrote that the Council has ‘never received any feedback that would suggest a desire to move the aerodrome’.
There were five, day-long Masterplan workshops during May and June attended by invited community members as well as three open meetings of developers and people in business and primary industries. It seems likely that if one or some of those gatherings had been told that Council was to decide on a Concept Plan for the Future Development of the Cromwell aerodrome, there would have been feedback.
Mr Dicey, in a Facebook post today, says ‘most people did not know of the issue’.
Not long after the first decision back in June, the Deputy Mayor, Mr Neil Gillespie, said in an interview with Crux that ‘the masterplan process would fail if it didn’t have regard to the airport’.
Airports are always controversial. Put that fact together with the pressures and uncertainty of fast population growth, and it’s no surprise that people in Cromwell would want to know more and have some influence over future development of the local aerodrome.