United front over unkept sections

Sponge Bay subdivision attracting vermin, obstructing footpaths, posing a fire risk.

Sponge Bay subdivision attracting vermin, obstructing footpaths, posing a fire risk.

‘NO RESPECT’: Sponge Bay subdivision residents Heather Thompson and John Rentoul stand among the long grass in one of the unsightly vacant sections. Mrs Thompson says the absentee owners allowing these sections to get to this state are showing “no respect whatsoever” for those who live there. Picture by Paul Rickard

SPONGE Bay subdivision residents have had enough of excessively overgrown vacant sections which are providing a home for rats.

Resident Heather Thompson this week presented Gisborne District Council a petition signed by all 96 subdivision home owners calling on the council to force absentee landowners to take action.

One property owner had paid $160 to get rats removed from her ceiling while others had found rats in their garages and homes, she said.

Eighteen sections needed attention. A council employee sent letters to those owners in October and as far as she saw there were three results. That proved a one-off.

What tended to happen was that after a letter was sent from the council, something would be done but then it would revert to the same.

“We pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to live in this great location,” said Mrs Thompson. “These absentee landowners are showing no respect whatsoever.”

The council was shown photographs of six-foot-high grass and overgrown footpaths. It was “a beautiful subdivision” and people took pride in their properties, she said.

The homeowners want a bylaw requiring section owners to keep their property to a suitable standard.

Council chief executive Judy Campbell said the footpath obstruction was definitely something that could be enforced. Fire risk and the vermin issue could also possibly be addressed, but the rest was a bit more difficult.

Councillor Larry Foster said there was a covenant requiring owners to keep their sections at an acceptable level but he was not sure how enforceable that was.

People reluctant to buy

Mrs Thompson said the state of the vacant sections made people reluctant to buy there, particularly people from out of town, and affected the morale of the residents.

“I am really passionate about Gisborne. I have lived here all my life, my parents were born and bred here and I want to stay here. I want other people to come here and make this town prosper. That is why I am here.”

Resident John Rentoul said he had concerns about the maintenance of reserve areas that had been vested in the council.

One of these was a "disgusting mess" and contractors had moved in and removed trees, and used a special mower brought from Manutuke.

Nothing had been done since and the section was going back to its previous condition, meaning the money was wasted.

Councillor Bill Burdett said there had been exactly the same problem with former Housing Corporation properties at Ruatoria. An abatement notice was served and when they took no notice the council brought a contractor in and sent them the bill. Surely the council could do that here.

Environment and regulatory manager Kevin Strongman said the vermin issue could be dealt with under the Health Act but it was always difficult to determine where the rats came from because there were streams in the area. Letters could be sent to the owners.

SPONGE Bay subdivision residents have had enough of excessively overgrown vacant sections which are providing a home for rats.

Resident Heather Thompson this week presented Gisborne District Council a petition signed by all 96 subdivision home owners calling on the council to force absentee landowners to take action.

One property owner had paid $160 to get rats removed from her ceiling while others had found rats in their garages and homes, she said.

Eighteen sections needed attention. A council employee sent letters to those owners in October and as far as she saw there were three results. That proved a one-off.

What tended to happen was that after a letter was sent from the council, something would be done but then it would revert to the same.

“We pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to live in this great location,” said Mrs Thompson. “These absentee landowners are showing no respect whatsoever.”

The council was shown photographs of six-foot-high grass and overgrown footpaths. It was “a beautiful subdivision” and people took pride in their properties, she said.

The homeowners want a bylaw requiring section owners to keep their property to a suitable standard.

Council chief executive Judy Campbell said the footpath obstruction was definitely something that could be enforced. Fire risk and the vermin issue could also possibly be addressed, but the rest was a bit more difficult.

Councillor Larry Foster said there was a covenant requiring owners to keep their sections at an acceptable level but he was not sure how enforceable that was.

People reluctant to buy

Mrs Thompson said the state of the vacant sections made people reluctant to buy there, particularly people from out of town, and affected the morale of the residents.

“I am really passionate about Gisborne. I have lived here all my life, my parents were born and bred here and I want to stay here. I want other people to come here and make this town prosper. That is why I am here.”

Resident John Rentoul said he had concerns about the maintenance of reserve areas that had been vested in the council.

One of these was a "disgusting mess" and contractors had moved in and removed trees, and used a special mower brought from Manutuke.

Nothing had been done since and the section was going back to its previous condition, meaning the money was wasted.

Councillor Bill Burdett said there had been exactly the same problem with former Housing Corporation properties at Ruatoria. An abatement notice was served and when they took no notice the council brought a contractor in and sent them the bill. Surely the council could do that here.

Environment and regulatory manager Kevin Strongman said the vermin issue could be dealt with under the Health Act but it was always difficult to determine where the rats came from because there were streams in the area. Letters could be sent to the owners.

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