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Dumped rocks still at Milford beach

Flagstaff Team

Overstayers… rocks on the beach for a little while longer

Auckland Council has extended the deadline for the removal of rocks dumped illegally on Milford Beach by two weeks.

The original order was for the sizeable boulders to be shifted by 10 July. The new deadline is 24 July.

The council’s manager regulatory compliance, Steve Pearce, said this week that the revision of the abatement notices issued last month came after the council received legal correspondence. After taking advice from its own legal team it had decided to make minor changes to the notices.

“These reissued notices require submission of a methodology by 10 July and removal of the material by 24 July,” he said.

Since the rocks were dumped early last month, the Rangitoto Observer has noticed that they have become deeply embedded in the sand, due to tidal shifts. This will likely make their removal trickier and costlier than if they had been uplifted earlier.

The Observer has spoken to the contractor who transported the excavated rocks down Milford Rd to the beach from the development site at Milford Centre on the weekend of 6-7 June. He blamed local “sticky beaks” for stopping residents using the rocks to reinforce their sea walls.

The dumping prompted a community outcry and still impedes beach walking at high tide. On 17 June, the council issued a total of 22 abatement notices to the contractor and the four property owners concerned whose beachfront homes are accessed from Holiday Rd.

The property owners have declined to speak to the news media, but Devonport-Takapuna Local Board member Ruth Jackson says one told her they did not realise a council consent was needed to fix their walls.

They also indicated that the intention was to move the rocks back from where they were left, she said. Jackson was told they hoped to do this by last week.

The contractor, Kevin Brashier, of KBL Earth Movers, said: “They would have been moved the next day if the nosy parkers hadn’t put their beaks in.” Asked how he came to be transporting the rocks, Brashier said they were “donated by Omana building site to the people, free of charge, for erosion control”.

When Brashier was asked if he or someone else had been engaged to move the rocks that next day, he said he hadn’t got to that discussion with the property owners.

Campbell Barbour, general manager of New Zealand Retail Property Group (NZRPG), which is developing the Omana North apartments on its mall site, confirmed the rocks were from there, but said that the company was not involved in the matter in any other way. “There was no donation of the rocks.”

Moving material off-site was a matter for contractors, he said. Excavations on the site were now finished, so “there are no more rocks”.

While NZRPG had on a previous occasion provided rocks to the council which were taken to Barrys Pt Rd, it had nothing to do with the beach case, he said. “We are as invested in Milford as anybody – we are part of the new Milford community.”

Locals want the rocks moved, either off the beach altogether or at least back into the existing rock walls. Some fear as the matter drags on the council may end up footing the bill.

Those served notices were told to stop bringing rocks to the site and to remove rocks already there in a way approved by council staff.

One member of the public said the property owners had acted in an “entitled” manner; another suggested they had proceeded independently because dealing with the council was trying.

Milford Residents Association co-chair Norma Bott had some sympathy with owners wanting walls to protect their lawns from tumbling down onto the beach, but said: “We were just concerned that the rocks were dropped on the beach without any concerns for public safety.”

Beach users needed a clear path.

The head of the Milford Business Association, Murray Hill, who has previously advocated the use of rocks from the mall site on other local projects, including along the Wairau Estuary’s mud banks, reckons common sense should have prevailed.

“The people on the beachfront are handicapped by council and here’s the solution, using rocks from the area to prop the banks up. The old Kiwi spirit of fixing it yourself has to still be allowed to live.”

The rocks should have been moved back into the walls, but, he said: “It won’t happen now because everyone is making such a song and dance about something that should have been fixed anyway.

“I suppose there’s wrong on both sides, but it just gets dramatised,” he said.

This article originally appeared in the 7 August 2020 edition of the Rangitoto Observer.

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