Sheriff Block uses approved by Community Board

05 Oct 2021

Sheriff Block uses approved by Community Board

The Mercury Bay Community Board wants to press ahead with the inclusion of motocross and speedway in the proposed development of the Sherriff Block adjacent to the Whitianga Airport despite strenuous opposition from neighbours and other interested parties about noise. However, in a compromise move, the board members have agreed to limit the times that the two sports would be able to operate.

A number of other uses have also been approved for the Thames-Coromandel District Council-owned land, including a concert venue, a wetland and equestrian activities.

Council sent out 116 letters to immediate property owners and other interested parties outlining the various proposed activities, inviting submissions which were presented to the Community Board at their meeting on Wednesday last week. Fifty-six submissions were received in total.

Of the 32 submitters who commented on motocross, 21 (65 percent) raised objections that included noise, dust, the proximity to residences, and the effects on airfield safety, equestrian activity and wildlife.

A report to the Community Board said that there had been both strong support for, and also strong opposition against, the motocross proposal, so a compromise was needed. The board members accordingly agreed that motocross should be allowed “…to operate for a maximum of four hours on only one day (Saturday or Sunday) per weekend year-round, except that it be permitted to operate for eight hours on one day (Saturday or Sunday) per month for the months of October through to April.”

Of the 18 speedway submitters, 11 (61 percent) objected, citing roughly the same concerns as with regard to motocross. The board recommended that speedway be able to operate on a “small number” of weekends annually during daylight hours as it has done traditionally.

Eight of the 17 (47 percent) respondents commenting on equestrian activities raised objections, including noise from aircraft spooking the horses and not being compatible with motocross and speedway. “These submissions have emanated principally from those seeking to protect the operation of the airfield,” the report to the board said. “Those supporting the inclusion of equestrian activities have come principally from those involved in the activity… From this it is assumed that they do not see the surrounding noise as an issue for the activity.”

With regard to the development of a wetland and the provision of water sport activities, the board agreed to provide for a wetland only without the water sports activity. Seventy-four percent of submitters on this topic were opposed to the wetland/watersport use of the land. Aircraft safety was a particular concern for members of the Mercury Bay Aero Club.

The report concluded that the most appropriate option was to change the proposed use of the land to “…remove the open water sports component and provide for an appropriate area of wetland with measures that will be developed in a way that minimises the attraction of birdlife to the area that may cause a problem to airfield users.”