Council lays down legal high policy
After considering written submissions from 340 people and holding a hearing on March 5 at which 22 people presented their submissions, the Matamata-Piako District Council adopted the draft Legal Highs Policy at its meeting on Wednesday, March 26.
Matamata-Piako District Mayor Jan Barnes thanked the community for their feedback.
‘‘We valued all the submissions presented to us and appreciate this was a sensitive topic for our community,’’ she said.
‘‘Given the limited power central government gave us we were faced with a tough decision on where legal high stores could be located and we understand that no-one wants these products in their town.’’
Council had to identify sites where legal high products would have to be located if someone applied for a licence to sell them under new government legislation.
After considering all locations it was agreed that a high-profile location will act as a deterrent as well as provide prominent police and public surveillance.
The Legal Highs Policy
limits the sale of legal highs to:
Broadway Matamata, between Tainui St and Hetana St
Thames St Morrinsville, between Canada St and Studholme St
Whitaker St Te Aroha, between Boundary St and Lawrence Ave.
Other restrictions adopted included:
A 300 metre restriction between retail premises selling legal highs.
A 25 metre restriction from sensitive sites.
Council chief executive Don McLeod said it was a difficult decision for the council but the restrictions adopted in the policy effectively mean there could be one legal high retail outlet in each town.
‘‘Council felt this was a good balance between recognising the governments’ decision to legalise and restrict the sale of legal highs and the concerns of the community to protect their towns,’’ he said.
It was agreed that limiting the sale of legal highs to one store per town is a reasonable restriction given the population of the Matamata-Piako District.
‘‘We share the community’s con- cerns and agree that there is no ideal place for these products to be sold,’’ said Barnes.
‘‘However we feel this is the best option to safeguard our community and minimise harm in our towns.’’
The policy takes effect immediately; however there are no legal high stores in the district and no pending applications for legal high stores to open.
Any applications would be considered by the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority after the new regulations take effect in mid-2015.