End of ‘se­cret’ prop­erty deals

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

The city coun­cil mo­tives for buy­ing prime beach­front land will be­come clearer with the for­ma­tion of a sub­com­mit­tee ded­i­cated to the lo­cal au­thor­ity’s pur­chase and sale of prop­erty.

Porirua City Coun­cil ap­proved the cre­ation of a prop­erty sub­com­mit­tee last Wed­nes­day, de­spite protests from some coun­cil­lors that it was be­ing formed too quickly and with lit­tle warn­ing.

Mayor Nick Leggett says there is a public per­cep­tion of se­crecy over coun­cil land pur­chases, such as the $1.225 mil­lion Ti­tahi Bay prop­erty ap­proved last week and the $1.125m pur­chase of a home in Plim­mer­ton last year.

Past ac­qui­si­tions have been made to en­sure per­ma­nent public ac­cess to beaches, wa­ter­sides and park­land, Mr Leggett says.

Pre­vent­ing ugly beach­side de­vel­op­ments is also a mo­tive, he says. Other pur­chases are in­fras­truc­tural, such as al­low­ing the coun­cil to es­tab­lish sew­er­age pump­ing sta­tions.

The coun­cil has al­lowed $25m in its long term plan for land pur­chases in the com­ing decade.

The new prop­erty sub­com­mit­tee, made up of coun­cil­lors Ken Dou­glas, Tim Shep­pard and Rob Rangi, and one ex­ter­nal real es­tate ex­pert, will meet when­ever a pur­chase or sale op­por­tu­nity is iden­ti­fied by coun­cil staff.

It will be able to move quickly to bid on prop­er­ties, but pur­chase ap­proval will still be needed by the full coun­cil.

Sell­ing coun­cil land will be a sig­nif­i­cant part of the coun­cil’s work­load and will free up money for more pur­chases, Mr Leggett says.

Rent­ing out houses on coun­cilowned sites will also help the coun­cil get a re­turn off the land, he says.

Coun­cil­lor Liz Kelly ques­tioned the sud­den­ness with which the sub­com­mit­tee was pro­posed.

‘‘It’s blown me away that we’ve just re­viewed our com­mit­tee struc­ture and now it’s here in full coun­cil and you want a decision tonight,’’ she said.

Ms Kelly also ques­tioned why five mem­bers of the coun­cil with real es­tate ex­per­tise should not sit on the com­mit­tee.

‘‘I just don’t see the ra­tio­nale that we would omit to have these peo­ple with those skills to sit at this com­mit­tee and yet we’re pay­ing to bring in some ex­ter­nal per­son to bring their skills and pay­ing them $10,000.’’

Coun­cil­lor and real es­tate agent Euon Mur­rell said he be­lieved his in­dus­try had high eth­i­cal stan­dards and he was tired of be­ing ‘‘ cru­ci­fied and pil­lo­ried’’ be­cause of con­flict of in­ter­est wor­ries.

Mr Leggett said the coun­cil was in the busi­ness of per­cep­tions, so any po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est had to be avoided.

In the groove: Ezekiel Fiso has got the rhythm and the foot­work to go a long way in the world of dance but top grades at school re­main his pri­or­ity.

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