Ran­git¯ıkei won’t adopt pri­or­ity ar­eas

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Your Local News - SAM KILMIS­TER

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.

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