Thursday, July 1, 2010

When is an 'independent' opinion not independent?

   This is the question opponents of the proposed Eastgate development on the busy Hamilton East corner of Clyde & Grey Sts have been asking themselves, after City Council management sought an 'independent' opinion on the legality of questionable Council planning processes from the very same lawyer Council management had paid to represent the Council in the April Environment Court hearing over the development.
    The Hamilton East Community Trust had discovered that strong restrictions on vehicle access to the Eastgate site had been listed on the property title at the time Council planners had approved the development - limits that meant the development plans could not have been legally approved. Then, days after the development was approved, Council planners retrospectively removed the restrictions without the normal consultation, allowing the Eastgate proposal the vehicle access it needed.
   When the Trust complained to Council management, and asked for an independent legal review of this abuse of process, Council management amazingly sought an opinion from the same solicitor who had run Council's case in the Appeal by the Trust against Eastgate, someone who had received information about this process 'problem' months earlier, but not advised Council management.
   Apart from completely changing the character of this former convent site, the development will add traffic chaos to an already highly-congested route, which is also part of the flagship Orbiter bus route and the main route between the city and the University. The people who want to build the development, and those who approved it, using shonky processes, need their heads read!

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