Scoop Appeal: Injustice In Marlborough

Published: Tue 11 Sep 2001 12:39 AM
Editors Note: The following is an appeal seeking justice from a Marlborough landowner who believes he has been mistreated by the Marlborough District Council. Scoop as a media with access to decision makers and policy makers is publishing this submission at the request of its author in order to assist him in having his complaint heard. We have neither verified the story, nor sought a response from the MDC.
The Resource Management Act and the Marlborough District Council
In 1992 My Wife and I purchased a property in the Wairau valley West of Blenheim.
We had bought this property with the intention of planting trees on what was a river terrace at the bottom of our property.
We purchased 60 acres.
This land was part of a new subdivision, which under the Resource Management Act was granted to the previous owners by the Marlborough District Council.
We were very happy with our purchase and were very excited about our new land.
We built a small cottage with the intention of using any monies left over to plant and rear trees for our forest.
We moved onto our block of land in March 1993.
On the 13th June, we had a flood on the Wairau River.
It tore down stopbanks 3 properties above our property and completely inundated our land.
We had an onsite meeting with councillors and council engineers, but looking at the problem it was evident that it would be far to big an undertaking to restore the stopbank.
Several weeks later, after members of the council surveyed the damage by helicopter, we were contacted by a senior member of the Marlborough District Council who verbally made the offer for the Marlborough District Council to purchase the affected land. They then had a valuation done on all the properties affected and turned around and backed out of what would have been a favourable outcome for all concerned.
On taking the Marlborough District Council to task for their backwards step we were told to take the Marlborough District Council to court.
We then asked the Marlborough District Council to repair this damage and they informed us that this would not happen.
One of our neighbours paid the council and they did some stupid work, in our eyes, as the very first minor flood knocked down this work.
There were instances when the Marlborough District Council did work down river of our land, mainly to protect an irrigation scheme Two Properties away.
I spent a lot of time trying to get documents on the subdivision from the council, but they were less than forthcoming which annoyed me no end.
The total damage to our property and our neighbours was.
1 Neighbour; Purchased 160 acres. Lost 140 acre.
2 Neighbour: Purchased 47 acres. Lost 17 acres.
Our loss : Purchased 60 acres: Lost 35 acres.
3 Neighbour: Purchased 65 acres: Lost about 20 acres.
As you can see there is a big problem here.
I hired a Lawyer to look into this problem and he informed us that the subdivision was suspect, as there should have been protection for us under the Resource Management Act, which states clearly that the Marlborough District Council shall not pass this subdivision unless it remedies, avoids, or mitigates any problem arising from the remote chance of inundation or erosion caused by the activities of the
Wairau River.
The council clearly did not do this.
The Marlborough District Council was advised by its planning department officer, its own rivers engineers, and also its own legal advisers not to grant this subdivision, but went ahead and did it anyway.
A past, or then present, employee of the Marlborough District Council owned the property.
After some years went past we were able to get the Marlborough District Council into a settlement hearing and we were advised by our lawyers to take the settlement offered.
We did, and now we want the Marlborough District Council to stop any more property from being lost.
This settlement hearing was not a confidential hearing so I can divulge any information about it.
We have at times been in contact with the Marlborough District Council about stopping any more damage to what is left of our property and was assured by their rivers engineer that this would be done.
I was asked to give them access to our property to do work to try and stop further erosion, and was surprised and disgusted to see them doing work on the bottom end of our property! Once again to give people protection below our place.
If they had told me what and where they would doing this work I would not have let them anywhere on our land.
This was the second time we were deceived by employees of the Marlborough District Council.
I take the settlement as a admission of liability and demand that the Marlborough District Council do the works that it contracted to do and stop any more damage to our property.
The Marlborough District Council has now offered to do some work on our problem but want us to pay $6000, which we strongly object to, as we are sure that the job should be done at the their expense.
We are unable to take any further legal action against the Marlborough District Council, as we are unable to afford it.
I am sure that if this work is not done there will be a lot more very unhappy people down the river further.
I don’t know if there is a law stating that people should be happy on their land, but am sure that there would be a moral obligation for the Marlborough District Council to follow.
We pay our rates like all other people on the River and are being treated very unfairly.
The Marlborough District Council says that it is following its district plan put in place by the Marlborough District Council, but this did not come into force until the end of 1994 so we seek redress from the Marlborough District Council.
This story I will be sending to the Internet and any other media that will accept it.
I have contacted various Politicians about this problem, but they seem disinterested at this stage.
We are sure that the Marlborough District Council was aware of the eventual outcome, and can be held responsible for the continuing damage that is happening to our property.
We will take none of the liability for any damage to our land.
We don’t think that we should suffer any more losses that are both financial and a lot of strain for my wife and I.
I will try and spread this document around both local and Central Government, as well as the Internet hoping that someone out there will know how to move this council and make it do the right thing.
We, after seeing works done by the Marlborough District Council are worried about the experience of their rivers engineers, and if we did have the money would be very reluctant to pay the Marlborough District Council to do the work.
If something had been done in the main river when my wife and I first approached the Marlborough District Council, we are sure of a different outcome.
We asked the rivers engineers to shift a channel braid to take the river away from the damaged stopbank and were assured that this would be done.
At a subsequent meeting with the Marlborough District Council This undertaking was denied.
This has happened twice now and we must wonder how these people can sleep nights.
I will not be able to name these people, as I would only let myself open to legal action.
I have to say that it would be a waste of time for anyone to try an get legal redress from organization such as the Marlborough District Council as they have unlimited funds to draw on in case of this nature.
We still persevered with this action and had to take the settlement, as we would not have seen any justice as if found to be in the wrong they would have immediately appealed.
We know that we would have run out of money and time before justice would have been done.
I personally had to stop the legal battle, as it was damaging my health, we had had enough.
My wife and I received a payment of $30,000 that fell well short of the $90,000 proven loss.
Out of this the legal fees were $23,000.
We are about to lose more land and we think that the Marlborough District Council should put structures in place, the same as was used to protect the Waihope bridge which sustained damage also.
That is another story that should be told.
The Marlborough District Council is very good at riding roughshod over its constituents. That happens on a very regular occurrence.
I think there would be a lot of horror stories to be told by other members of the public.
I think that an investigation into the some of the actions of the Marlborough District Council would surely be more than warranted.
I intend to advertise in the papers and see if I can get anyone else with this sort of problem to come forward and tell of their experiences with the Marlborough District Council.
There are several subdivisions in the immediate area where landowners had dialogue with the Marlborough District Council about a fault with the stop bank in question, and were told by the Marlborough District Council that no future work would be done on the stopbank.
This happened before these subdivisions were applied for.
We, as the new landowners were not aware of this dialogue until many months after the damage.
We say once again that the Marlborough District Council let these subdivisions through, knowing that there was a potential disaster about to occur.
Therefore these subdivisions should be illegal under the Resource Management Act!!
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