Tararua District close local burnout pad
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An abatement notice from his own council has put the brakes on Tararua District councillor Ernie Christison's burnout pad at Rua Roa.
Mr Christison, elected to the council last October, gained national publicity on radio and television when he opened his Rua Roa business premises to young people wanting to get off the road and do donuts and burnouts legally.
Admitting he was probably one of Tararua's oldest boy racers, Mr Christison, one of the youth portfolio holders for the council, listened to the pleas for somewhere to burn rubber legally.
With a pall of smoke and flying rubber, Mr Christison's wood yard allowed the youngsters to do burnouts and burn off some adrenalin at the same time.
Word of the pad spread and Mr Christison was soon talking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, and then Seven Sharp arrived to cover a night of skids.
The $800 raised from that night was donated to the Cancer Society's Relay for Life by the SLOT (Sustained Loss of Traction) Club who were tasked with running the events.
However, there were requirements Mr Christison had to follow, including applying for a resource consent for the off-road acclivity, a health and safety requirement that everyone wear protective glasses, which was met, and an insistence by district mayor Tracey Collis to communicate with his neighbours.
Mrs Collis said she was happy for Mr Christison to go ahead, provided he met all the conditions, including gaining a resource consent.
However, in March Mr Christison was served with an abatement notice by the Tararua District Council, ordering the burnout nights to stop.
"I had to pull the plug on the burnouts immediately, otherwise my business was threatened if it continued. If we'd run one more burnout night they would have prosecuted me," he said.
Mr Christison said the abatement notice was a shock and something he didn't see coming.
But Mrs Collis told the Dannevirke News Mr Christison had been sent two letters advising him of the requirements which needed to be met.
"There had been complaints," she said.
Mr Christison insists he has handed over the burnout venture to the Dannevirke SLOT Club and it was that club which was applying for the resource consent.
But Mrs Collis said as the landowner, the responsibility is on her councillor.
"He has to follow the rules in respect of being the land owner," she said.
Chris Berkahn, father of SLOT Club member Kyle, said he'd begun work on the resource consent, but had to turn it over to Mr Christison.
"The boys aren't going to give up on this, but the requirements of the consent on air quality and sound levels are equivalent to those required for Fonterra's new powder plant in Pahiatua," Mr Berkahn said.
"We're talking more than $6000 for the air quality test and as far as I'm concerned no other motorsport activity has to do this. With the abatement notice it's illegal to run a car on Ernie's pad to do these tests anyway. "
Mr Berkahn said the club has dealt with the health and safety requirements and would like to see commonsense and reason from council.
"If the burnout pad doesn't happen, so be it," he said. "But when the pad was operational there was a noticeable culture change, now kids are burning rubber on our streets again, but I don't think the kids linked to the SLOT Club are responsible.
"The burnout pad was about keeping the kids off our streets and not getting a criminal record. The club saw the change in culture, with kids self policing the event and encouraging others in Tararua to join them. I want our council to be supportive."
Kyle Berkahn said the young people appreciated what Mr Christison had done for them.
"He's been real good to us and it's great to be given somewhere to go," he said.
-Hawkes Bay Today