The lack of enforcement options available to the Gore District Council when dealing with a derelict building in Mataura has prompted Mataura Community Board chairman Alan Taylor to question whether the legislation needs more teeth.
Residents’ concerns about the state of the house, on the corner of Mataura Tce and Hope St, had been aired to the board and Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks.
Gore District Council general manager regulatory and planning Ian Davidson-Watts submitted a report at the Mataura Community Board’s Monday meeting recommending taking a non-regulatory approach with the owner of a dilapidated building in River Tce in a bid to seek resolution.
Board chairman Alan Taylor said after the meeting that the board was aware of the legislation, but questioned whether it needed to be reviewed and amended so that it allowed for local bodies to take action in remedying concerns over property maintenance.
Residents generally wanted to take pride in the town and their properties, he said.
“If the community board can make progress in this area and better find a way to respond to residents’ concerns, then we will,” Mr Taylor said.
Dr Davidson-Watts said the council was satisfied the property was compliant with bylaws relating to the management of vegetation, and no Resource Management Act rules had been breached.
The Building Act dealt with insanitary and dangerous buildings, he said.
Buildings were normally classified as dangerous when the building was likely to cause injury or death to persons in the building or the collapse of the building would endanger the public and/or other buildings, he said.
The council’s building staff assessed the property in question and there appeared to be no imminent threat to either users of the building or the public, as it was not in use.
No-one was living in the house and the owner was based overseas, he said.
The power and water had been disconnected.
The building had been boarded up and a person would have to trespass on the property to be at risk.
“There are limits as to what the council is able to do under the legislative framework,” he said.
Dr Davidson-Watts recommended the council contact the property owner and discuss concerns.
“There may be some common ground that can be found using a non-regulatory approach.”
Dr Davidson-Watts said after the meeting that property owners had the right to use their property as they saw fit without undue interference.
“We can’t go in there and tell people how to use their property.”
The issue related more to aesthetics than safety, he said.
“It’s an inbetweeny; it’s a very tricky one.”
Mr Hicks said on Wednesday that he was aware of the concerns and had driven past the house.
“I had a visit from one of the neighbours to raise the issue with me,” he said.
“If I was the person living beside it, I wouldn’t like it.
“I understand the owners are not local.”
But the owners were meeting their obligations by paying the rates and keeping the section in check, and it appeared the house was reasonably secure, he said.
“I would have thought it was likely to be a target for vandals.”
Being in Hope St, the house was not visible to traffic passing through the town.
“It’s one that I’ve missed – it’s not on the usual route that I travel.”
Board member Geoff Colvin said he would like to see a letter sent to the property owner outlining concerns as soon as possible.
Dr Davidson-Watts plans to talk to the owner about the property.