The Waipā District Licensing Committee appears almost certain to rule against a tide of public opposition to a liquor store and grant an off-licence with conditions.
The committee met in Te Awamutu last week to consider the application from Blue Drops for a bottle store in Cambridge, less than 100 metres from council pensioner housing and a retirement village.
But the issue has raised questions about how such applications should be advertised.
The present requirements were all met – but there are concerns they are outdated, and as result notifications can go unnoticed.
The extent of advertising for the Cambridge application was a notice on a building window and a classified advert in a Stuff publication which contains little local news.
The present notification requirements also apply to such things as vaping and gambling outlets.
A number of groups which objected to the application in Cambridge were only alerted to it thanks to a News story. By the time they objected, the deadline had passed.
The groups included Tainui-owned Māori public health provider Hāpai Te Hauora, St Andrews Retirement Village residents and a nearby motel.
The committee asked questions this week about the number of late objections.
Licensing inspector Mary Fernandez suggested it was because of social media.
The News story ran on July 23 story. There had been no objections prior to that or within 15 days of the advertisement appearing in a Stuff-owned newspaper in May. The objections, except for the ones from the Medical Officer of Health and Police who were told of the application, came after the News story was published.
Last week the Medical Officer of Health was the only ‘official’ objector to the application after Police withdrew its objection.
The applicants’ counsel Pervinder Kaur said her clients met all their obligations under the Act.
She was critical of the Medical Officer of Health who she said had not provided any detail to support its submission against the application.
“The applicant should not have to be guessing what the MOH’s case is. The rules of natural justice required the applicant should know the case it has to answer before the close of evidence.”
The committee adjourned the hearing to allow the applicant time to produce a detailed floor plan.
Grayson said the committee expected to make a decision before Christmas.