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Council flexes in gym consent stoush

Wai Weight Gym has been forced to seek legal advice as its consenting battle with Masterton District Council [MDC] drags on.

Bevan MacKenzie, the owner of the 24-hour gym located on Bentley St, said he is at his wit’s end because the council is forcing him to seek consent for things he is permitted to do under the district plan.

He has sold his ute to cover legal fees and said he has suffered sleepless nights because his family’s home and livelihood are in jeopardy.

The trouble began last year when a neighbour made 11 noise complaints about the gym. Although no evidence of excessive noise was found, the council subsequently directed the gym to reapply for the consent it has held for 14 years.

Since last year’s complaints, MacKenzie has spent thousands of dollars soundproofing the gym with special wall materials and rubber matting on the floors.

Music is played at a low volume and turned off at night.

Wai Weight has operated for over a decade; In 2010, an MDC resource planner stated it was “compliant with district regulations and rules, does not require any resource consent, and is not susceptible to any regulatory or enforcement action by the council”.

But earlier this week, MDC said the 24-hour gym needs to show evidence that noise standards are met, despite the business having only two upheld noise violations in its history [2011 and 2019], and that it needs to apply for resource consent because the activity of the business is “not permitted” under the district plan.

MacKenzie said his business is largely compliant with the district plan and only needs resource consent for a small number of non-compliances that MDC did not pick up on when it first approved his consent in 2009.

The non-compliance areas are a too-large sign, some outside lighting, and the proximity of a shed extension to the property boundary.

Having sought legal advice and help with consenting, Wai Weight sent a 114-page resource consent application for those non-compliances. A week later, MacKenzie sent a 94-page application for a certificate of compliance, showing how the rest of the business remains compliant with the district plan.

On Monday night, the council declined to formally accept the two applications.

“The certificate of compliance cannot be issued on the basis that the activity and part-building are not permitted under the district plan. Also, there is no real evidence that the noise standards are met,” the email read.

MDC said it wants Wai Weight to apply for resource consent for “all matters,” including those MacKenzie believes to be compliant.

“Please amend your resource consent application and re-lodge within 10 working days,” the email stated.

MacKenzie said that by not formally accepting his application, MDC has avoided the need to assess it point-by-point.

“All I ask for is that MDC accept my application for processing so that the position can be subjected to scrutiny and determination by the court,” he said.

“It simply beggars belief that the council planners are unwilling to face this scrutiny and instead insist I seek consent for an activity I am advised complies with the district plan.

“It goes without saying that all this uncertainty is causing me and my family massive stress.”

Over 30 Wai Weight members have written letters of support, explaining how the gym has helped them improve their lives mentally and physically.

Many members are police officers, shift workers, and commuters, who rely on its 24-hour access to work out at times convenient to them.

The current district plan makes no restrictions on the hours of operation for residential businesses.

The Times-Age asked MDC why it is making Wai Weight apply for resource consent, whether it is related to last year’s unsubstantiated noise complaints, and how much it has spent on lawyers in this dispute.

The council declined to comment, saying it is still in discussion with MacKenzie and his planning consultant.

1 COMMENT

  1. MDC are a bunch of twatts and if I was this owner ide be looking to see if any of the staff at MDC are in close proximity to his gym or have an interest via family member/ acquaintance in another local gym and are trying the let squeeze him out by making his life hard in the hope he shuts down.
    Time someone/friend sets up givealittle page to help with Wai Weight legal costs to fight this beauracratic bullshit

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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