Container wars in Gibbston

SHARE
In dispute: Containers on council manager Gareth Noble's Gibbston property

A Queenstown council manager’s in a stoush with neighbours over two “eyesore” containers on his Gibbston property, one of which his family lives in.

Gareth Noble’s had the structures, highly visible from the highway, on his Wentworth Estate land for 18 months.

Under the subdivision’s covenants and the council’s district plan, containers are only allowed if they’re ancillary to a building project.

To date, the only apparent building activity’s been a recently-laid floor slab which a house is due to be built on.

Wentworth Estate owner Terry Stevens says he and nine other neighbours started to take court action against Noble last November, but their lawyer advised them to instead ask the council to enforce its own planning rules against temporary buildings.

Stevens contends council initially intended taking en-forcement action, but changed course to allow Noble to apply for a retrospective resource consent.

He believes that’s because other council staff were helping out a colleague.

“There’s several indications, emails saying ‘we’re meeting with Gareth’ or ‘we just met with Gareth’.

“In other words, they’re holding his hand and working very closely with him.”

Stevens says the containers wouldn’t be such a big deal if they were tucked away, “but this a major eyesore for the whole subdivision”.

Near neighbour Kim Carpenter says he’d been told council wanted to enforce its planning rules, “and they haven’t, and whether that has to do with Gareth being an employee or not, it certainly looks poor”.

Asked for comment, Noble says: “This is a private matter.

“I will not be making any comment at this time.”

But council boss Mike Theelen is adamant his staff member’s not been treated any differently than any member of the public.

“The approach we’ve taken here, and that’s the approach that we take 99 per cent of the time, is we endeavour to solve those sorts of illegalities, if that’s the right word, by trying to encourage people to get themselves into compliance, and clearly this is what’s happened with Gareth.”

In his consent application, Noble says he’s “reluctantly” agreed to apply, stating council “incorrectly” believes he needs consent for “permitted activities”.

Asked about the wording, Theelen says “adding all that at the beginning of his application is unnecessary”.

scoop@scene.co.nz