The backwash of developer Rod Nielsen’s bankruptcy continues to plague Queenstown.
Thirty-six owners of Heritage Villas on Fernhill Road are mounting a legal attempt to overturn a $300,000 landscaping liability which they allegedly inherited from Nielsen.
A condition of the villas’ consent – granted by Queenstown Lakes District Council to Nielsen’s company in 2002 – required an adjoining reserve to be landscaped.
But the developer did only minimal landscaping and by the time QLDC woke up, Nielsen’s company had gone broke.
And most of a big landscaping-performance bond supposedly safeguarding QLDC has also vanished, lost in the crash of finance company Bridgecorp – Nielsen had simply tacked the bond on to his development mortgage. As revealed in Mountain Scene last July, QLDC then chose to go the villa owners as the only parties left standing – abatement notices were issued to complete the landscaping.
The villa owners’ lawyers are now trying to have the landscaping condition cancelled, claiming it “has no resource management purpose” and that councils have no power “to impose off-site landscaping conditions”.
Asking owners to pay up is “unrealistic”, “unfair”, “inconsistent”, “unreasonable” – and QLDC has left owners “unreasonably exposed” by failing in its duty, the owners say.
The matter is with QLDC regulatory and enforcement body Lakes Environmental but will almost certainly go to the Environment Court.