Council revokes rehab consent

Wanganui Chronicle,New Zealand/April 25, 2008

Planned church-based rehabilitation centre in Papaiti Rd for male alcoholics and drug addicts no longer has resource consent.

Its consent was revoked this week after an investigation by a Wanganui District Council planning officers.

Councillor Ray Stevens said that, after a number of complaints from residents and members of the community, council planning officers had found that the original resource consent should not have been granted.

"It became clear to us that what had been written in the proposal and what the owners had been saying were two different things," Mr Stevens said.

"At this stage, I can't say whether, once the new proposal is looked at, the resource consent will be publicly notified. Unfortunately, if it is notified, it will cost the owners more to have it heard," he said.

Mr Vermuelen has been asked to submit a second application. Earlier, Mr Vermuelen had told the Wanganui Chronicle and his neighbours that the centre had been granted resource consent and it was all go.

His immediate neighbours on either side of the Papaiti Rd property, Leanne and Terry Cox and Roger and Charlene Miller, were all furious and horrified.

The two couples had said they were angry and upset because they had not been consulted and that they did not think it was safe to have an addiction centre in a area where there are so many young families. Both couples said they were worried about the safety of their young children.

But they were further incensed about the granting of the consent, because they had made it clear to Mr Vermuelen that they didnt agree with the centre and would not sign giving their support for the consent application.

"It's hard to believe that the council would go ahead and grant consent without asking us, the nearest neighbours. Our rights were completely ignored," they said. Mrs Cox said yesterday that they were relieved the consent decision had now been overturned.

"I feel better now, knowing that we will probably get to have our say at a proper public hearing."

*Narconon*, the Scientology Church rehabilitation programme, had been chosen for the centre because it focused on healthy living and lifestyle choices, working on the premise of a clean mind and a clean body.

Those on the programme would be treated with vitamins and minerals and have saunas to flush the toxins from the fat cells of their bodies, along with regular exercise and counselling.

Specialist people selected to run the programme at the centre would need to be trained for between four and six weeks at the Narconon addiction centre in Melbourne.

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