Rangit¯ıkei won’t adopt priority areas
Officials will not impose tougher timeframes on owners of earthquake-prone buildings in Rangitı¯kei, but warn the problem won’t go away.
The Rangitı¯kei District Council received an overwhelming ‘no’ from building owners during consultation in October after originally proposing priority areas in Bulls, Marton, Hunterville and Taihape.
This means the council will now have five years to identify earthquake-prone buildings and owners will have 15 years to strengthen or demolish.
It’s a welcome relief for the owners of more than 35 Marton buildings built before 1935.
Although, owners still believe no matter what way legislation is enforced, there is going to be significant expense and little of what they might consider an upside.
Those around the council table agreed, with mayor Andy Watson saying the government shouldn’t classify towns like Marton and Feilding the same as metropolitan areas.
‘‘This was a ‘one size fits all’ policy from the Government and one size does not fit all in small towns.
‘‘It’s important we don’t think this will go away. These buildings will still have to be earthquakeproofed.’’
Councillor Dean McManaway and deputy mayor Nigel Belsham said the council would kill small towns if it implemented priority areas to speed the process.
‘‘If we move anything other than this motion I believe we are shortening the noose around the necks of building owners in our district,’’ Belsham said.
‘‘We need to do everything in our political power to go to the Government to change policy.’’
Club Hotel owner Gavin Case said Marton’s low population, and vehicle and pedestrian counts, limited the risk.
The risk from these buildings was the same as when they were built in the early 1900s, Case said.
Having more time to remedy earthquake-prone buildings gave landlords time to gather funds, he said.
Engineer Rob Snijders said identifying vast areas of the district as priority areas would ‘‘mark the end’’ for Rangitı¯kei.
Buildings in Marton had been left to decay, primarily due to economic decline in the district, he said.
‘‘Most of our CBDs have gone to sleep by 5pm. Without substantial improvements in the district’s economy, buildings will be left empty and allowed to rot.’’
Marton resident Wendy Wagner said with poor returns and the exorbitant cost to strengthen, owners would demolish buildings or walk away.
‘‘Where will that leave Marton township?’’
Marton’s old post office on Broadway is up for sale, but Rangit¯ıkei mayor Andy Watson warns the problem won’t go away.