Get on the grass

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Overgrown vegetation on council-owned Queenstown land is a fire and traffic hazard, fuming neighbouring property owners claim. 

The property owners, on Chandler Lane, Aspen Grove, allege they’ve been fobbed off by Queenstown Lakes District Council. 

Council staff argue the overgrown plot is grass verge, which according to a council bylaw is the adjacent property owner’s “civic responsibility” to maintain. 

Neighbours, however, say the sloping 350sq m plot is far bigger than the average grass verge. 

In addition, they point out the plot can’t be seen from the house or driveway of adjacent property owner Cameron Mann. 

Mann, 73, says: “I don’t agree it’s a verge and it’s too much to expect me, at my age and with my medical history, to maintain.” 

Auckland-based Chandler Lane homeowner Rodger Coleclough says he’s spent more than 100 hours in the past three months trying to cajole the council into action. 

In an email to mayor Vanessa van Uden, late last month, he pleaded for immediate action “before someone gets hurt”. 

“A few weeks ago one of our neighbours narrowly avoided a head-on collision as the grass has now become so long that it is hard to see around the corner to see what is coming,” he tells Van Uden in his email. 

Speaking to Mountain Scene, Coleclough also accuses the council of double standards. 

The council is urging property owners to clear their overgrown sections because of the current fire risk but not attending to one of its own plots, he says. 

“I’ve seen parts of Otara in South Auckland better maintained than this.” 

Coleclough points out he and his neighbours pay large rates yet don’t receive council services because they’re on a private lane. 

“We’re only asking the council to do one small thing and they’re hell-bent on not doing it.” 

Coleclough says he and neighbours Mike Stone and Fraser Nehoff are “sick and tired of calling up and being given the run-around”. 

Council community services boss Paul Wilson says they’ll give the plot a one-off mow in view of its fire and safety risk. 

However, the council won’t mow it regularly or else ratepayers would be saddled with maintaining probably hundreds of berms like it around the district, he says. 

“There is assistance available from the Government for folk who are unable to wield the lawnmower any more – that’s something that we’d encourage [the neighbouring land owner] to look at.” 

Coleclough says Wilson’s response is “unacceptable”. 

“They’re just shunning their responsibilities. 

“That’s what we’re paying rates for and in our street we don’t get anything done at all,” Coleclough says.