Sunday, June 16, 2024

Waipā councillor resigns amid quarry sandstorm

Waipā District Council has confirmed the resignation of long-time Waipā District Councillor, Elwyn Andree-Wiltens after it was revealed she had a financial interest in a local sand quarry which recently came under fire for not having resource consent.

Ms Andree-Wiltens, who represents the Maungatautari Ward at Council, has been an elected member in Waipā for approximately nine years, with two terms as Councillor and prior to that as a member of the Cambridge Community Board representing Maungatautari.

The resignation was added as a late item to Tuesday’s Council meeting agenda, with the councillor signalling her intent to resign on Monday via an email to Waipa District Mayor, Jim Mylchreest.

Andree-Wiltens was absent from the Council meeting.

“Due to the Local Government Act 2002 (Schedule 7), elected members have the right to resign office by notice in writing addressed and delivered to the chief executive of the local authority. The notice takes effect on the day on which it is delivered to the chief executive,” Council said in a statement.

Council Chief Executive, Garry Dyet confirmed he received the notice of resignation following the Council meeting.

“Due to the approaching end of elected members’ three year term later this year, staff will now prepare a report for Council seeking a decision to either fill the vacant Maungatautari Ward seat by appointment or leave the position vacant until the upcoming October 2022 elections.”

With less than 12 months until the elected member’s three year Council term ends, a by-election will not be considered as part of the options, Council said.

A decision on the report is expected to be made at the May Council meeting.

Andree-Wiltens chairs the Maungatautari Reserve Committee, sits on the Cambridge Community Board as Maungatautari Ward Councillor, is a member of the Heritage Fund advisory group and is part of the Waikato-Tainui and Waipā District Council Joint Management Agreement.

Mayor Mylchreest said the resignation was “regrettably the best outcome in the circumstances”.

“I am grateful that Elwyn has taken this step in the circumstances and I genuinely believe it will be the best outcome for both Elwyn and Council,” the Mayor said.

“I would like to acknowledge Elwyn’s many years of contribution to Council on behalf the residents of Maungatautari.

“I would also like to reassure our Maungatautari residents that myself and the rest of the Waipā councillors are happy to receive any questions or concerns that they would otherwise direct to Elwyn at this time. We recognise this may be unsettling and we are here for you.”

In the same statement, Council said the resignation followed scrutiny of a local on-farm sand quarry earlier this month. Ms Andree-Wiltens owns a 25% shareholding in the Beacon Hill Contracting sand quarry.

Under Council’s District Plan rural zone rules, farm quarries are a permitted activity in the rural zone for that farm’s use.

“When Council’s enforcement team was notified of the size and nature of the quarry, staff undertook an investigation and suspended operations on the site immediately, Council said in a statement.

“A retrospective resource consent application for the operation has since been submitted to Council, who will rely on an independent processing planner and independent commissioner to decide on its outcome.”

The status and progress updates of the consent will be loaded onto the Council’s Consents of Interest webpage at www.waipadc.govt.nz/consentapplicationsofinterest.

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