Worry about growing fire risk

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An overgrown section which could pose a fire risk has prompted some Mary St residents to call the Gore District Council to have the grass mowed and removed.

However, the council says it is already in the process of solving the problem.

The grass in the section next to Brian and Annette McNamara’s property is long and lush. With the recent warm weather it could quickly turn into a fire danger, Mrs McNamara said.

Mrs McNamara and at least one other resident had contacted the Gore District Council asking to have the absentee owner of the section mow the grass, but this had not happened.

“Last year we had the same thing,” she said.

Mrs McNamara said normally the council contacted the owner and the section was mowed, but this had not been the case this year.

Normally if an owner did not mow their section, the council would mow it and subsequently send the bill to the owner, Mrs McNamara said.

The problem posed by the overgrown section had been raised with various council staff during the past two or three months, she said.

“And they’ve just done nothing – they used to be better than this,” she said.

Last time Mrs McNamara contacted the council it was suggested she use herbicide to spray a strip of grass next to her section.

“I was told to spray a strip if I was worried about a fire risk.”

That suggestion could not be carried out as the section belonged to someone else and it was not her family’s responsibility, she said.

She was also told by a council staff member someone was going to put horses in the section and run an electric fence along the boundary, again an impractical idea, she said.

Mary St ran on to Hokonui Dr, which was a a busy road.

“I just think this is ridiculous.”

Fellow Mary St resident Nola Affleck said she phoned the council to voice her concerns about two weeks ago.

There were concerns last year about the long grass but the problem was not as serious as this year because there was no fire risk last year.

“It just doesn’t do anything for our street or the town that we live in,” Mrs Affleck said.

Gore District Council regulatory and planning general manager Ian Davidson-Watts said the council had sent letters to the owners of untidy sections and those who had not carried out the required action would now have their long grass mowed by council contractors.

The owners were given a month to tidy their sections, he said.

The owners of sections mowed by the council contractors would be billed for the work, he said.

Council staff had tried to contact Mrs McNamara about her concerns but did not have the right telephone number, he said.

Grass growth this year had increased due to a mild winter and warmer spring, contributing to the problem, he said.

The council tried to provide residents with helpful advice to mitigate problems from neighbouring sections, while working with landowners to resolve the issues, he said.

The council would no longer be responsible for fire-risk vegetation from July 1 next year when Fire Emergency New Zealand would take over the responsibility.

The council would continue to manage vermin problems and unsightly sections, Dr Davidson-Watts said.