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Consent uncertainty weighs on gym

The future of a popular Masterton gym hangs in the balance, with a consenting issue arising after a neighbour’s unsubstantiated noise complaints.

Wai Weight was a pioneering 24/7 gym when it first opened at its current Bentley St site in 2009, but now owner Bevan MacKenzie said its ability to operate at night might be at risk.

Shift workers and rail commuters have trained at Wai Weight in the early morning since it was the only night gym in town, but last year trouble began brewing when a neighbour started making noise complaints.

The neighbour complained 11 times, although no excessive noise was noted each time noise control attended to investigate.

Despite this, MacKenzie said earlier this year Masterton District Council [MDC] asked him to apply for resource consent to continue operating after 10pm.

MacKenzie said he doesn’t want to apply for the consent now, given that in 2009, MDC said a resource consent was “non-applicable” to the gym, and nothing has changed in his business model since.

A resource consent would be needed if noise was an issue.

The council appears to have revised its 2009 position, however.

When contacted by the Times-Age, MDC said it was in conversation with the owner, but declined to comment further.

If MacKenzie has to apply for resource consent now, MDC could decline his application, meaning the gym could no longer open at night.

MacKenzie said he feels like he’s been “walking on eggshells” trying to keep the noise down, including spending thousands of dollars on soundproofing and rubber mats – even though none of the excessive noise complaints have been substantiated by evidence.

“This is hard for me because this is my livelihood,” he said.

“This gym does so much good in the community, and it just feels like some in the council are picking on a small business.”

The gym is filled with sound cladding and notices telling people to keep the noise down; music is played quietly with reduced bass and automatically turns off between 10pm and 6am.

Immediate neighbour Medusa McQuillan said she had never heard excessive noise from Wai Weight, even though her bedroom is just a few metres away.

“Wai Weight are excellent neighbours, and the noise is reasonable all the time,” she said.

“Even when they have powerlifting competitions with hundreds of people, it’s nothing to complain about; they’ve always been respectful.”

Since being asked to apply for resource consent, Wai Weight has received over 30 letters of support detailing how the gym – and its 24-hour business model – is a huge benefit to the community.

Member Gabrielle Martell-Turner said the gym is “a place you could be confident and safe” and that the 24-hour access allows people to work out when it suits them.

“If Bevan had to change his business model, that would be so sad – it’s a community resource,” she said.

MacKenzie is scheduled to meet with MDC staff today to discuss the resource consent.

1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Editor;
    This so called noise problem at the Gym is just another prod from the bureaucrats in Masterton to appear to be doing something. I have had serious discussions with MDC and Transit NZ representatives about the excessive noise from trucks running through the pot holes on SH2. I was told categorically that the MDC has no jurisdiction over SH2. So if the council cannot enforce anything with our highest traffic road why should they bother with any other noise issue? I raised the issue of using a decibel meter to measure the volume. The reply was that the noise from a vehicle has to be measured at an open space like an airport before it is considered valid. It didn’t matter that the trucks shake the surrounding area for up to 80 meters as well. Also consider vehicle noise around petrol stations when the very large motorbikes and hot cars are refueling. You literally cannot hear above the din for minutes at a time every weekend.or public holiday. How dangerous is that if someone is spilling fuel and cannot hear a warning being shouted at them?? This happens the full length of SH2 in the borough. There are some noises which travel an incredible distance and still irritate the listener I know. But all the precautions have been taken so that should not be an issue. We need to take a stand against piecemeal application of rules by different “authorities”! I know personally that there are other noise issues within the borough which the council has not resolved and appears not to have the will? I am often woken at 4;30AM by the leaf blower on Queen St or the gutter sweeper at 5;00 AM. Keep up the fight McKenzie. We are worth it.
    Byron L Knight
    Ratepayer; Masterton.

Comments are closed.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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