Council to clean up city property

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Invercargill City Council.

ONE man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

This is what has people divided over a court order that will allow the Invercargill City Council to clear an overgrown suburban property in Avenal.

The Invercargill man will need to cover the costs for council to do the work on his property which he had failed to do himself.

In 2019, he was ordered by an Environment Court judge to stop bringing on to and storing on the property any more inoperative vehicles and any building waste products.

By February 2020 he needed to remove these, clear all rubbish, rotted or rusting items on the property and clear overgrown vegetation, as well as spray the property with weed killer.

However, council was last month allowed to sell or dispose of any material salvaged throughout its own clean-up and recover costs from the property owner.

Additional steps were made for an amended application to alleviate the man’s concern that the council might remove items, perceived as waste, that were in fact of use to him.

Discussion on social media about the case varied.

Some called it a David and Golliath situation, while others thought property owners had a responsibility to keep their sections clean and tidy.

When the Southland Express asked council representative Michael Morris about what powers council had with situations like this, he explained it was under both its environmental health bylaw and the resource management act 1991.

“The bylaw was created to deal with the number of untidy sections that were of concern to many residents.

“There are many factors, some of which include public health (like vermin rats, mice, feral cats,) but also amenity issues of rubbish, rotting items, long grass.”

When deciding what on the property was of value, he said it was a subjective test.

“We are looking at the state of the items, condition of them, how they have been kept. Generally, items left to deteriorate outside are not considered of value.

“However we always work with the affected owners to ensure that a fair solution is reached.”

In this man’s case, it was a neighbour who called council that prompted it to inspect.

There was no magic number, however, for that to happen.

“One call is sufficient for council to inspect. If a person has taken the time to contact council with an issue it has generally been concerning them for some time.”

Other times it could result from council officers being in the area and noticing an issue.

It was uncommon for council staff to need to clear a property itself, as most people comply when asked to do so.

Mr Morris noted anybody can apply for an enforcement order.

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