Coun­cil­lors di­vided on $1 land­deal

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MIRI SCHROETER

Sell­ing land for $1 to the Horowhenua District Coun­cil turned out to be more dif­fi­cult than an­tic­i­pated after some coun­cil­lors raised ob­jec­tions.

At a coun­cil meet­ing in Levin, coun­cil­lors voted to pur­chase some prime land near the Ohau vine­yard for just $1.

But two coun­cil­lors and the mayor were op­posed to the pur­chase, which sparked de­bate in the coun­cil cham­ber.

The Bishop Vine­yard Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of­fered the 3113-square-me­tre lot to the coun­cil on the pro­viso that it could not build at the site un­less the project was for the good of the com­mu­nity.

With the cost of main­tain­ing the land at $1750 per year, Cr Barry Judd was con­cerned the coun­cil would be un­able to look after it, es­pe­cially if more sales like this went ahead.

‘‘I can still walk down Hokio Beach Rd and show you ar­eas that are un­tidy and are not mowed that were pre­vi­ously mowed when we could af­ford to mow those re­serves.’’

The coun­cil had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to main­tain these green spa­ces, Judd said.

Cr Jo Ma­son said the pub­lic re­serve would add to the ap­peal of this district.

‘‘We are talk­ing about this be­ing at­tached to sub­di­vi­sions.

‘‘What we are likely to ben­e­fit from is at­tract­ing more ratepay­ers as a re­sult of the ev­er­grow­ing district.’’

The costs as­so­ci­ated were mi­nor con­sid­er­ing the value it would add, Ma­son said.

Deputy mayor Wayne Bishop said it was short­sighted not to buy land for use as pub­lic re­serves in a grow­ing district.

Judd dis­agreed that his view was short­sighted, say­ing it kept the fu­ture in mind.

The coun­cil should only ac­quire more land if it could af­ford to main­tain it, Judd said.

Cr Ross Brani­gan said the coun­cil should grab the bar­gain, though he shared some of Judd’s con­cerns.

Bran­ni­gan said he wanted more dis­cus­sion on main­tain­ing pub­lic ar­eas if the coun­cil kept ac­quir­ing more.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive David Clap­per­ton said plenty of land had been do­nated to the coun­cil in the past, so it was not out of the or­di­nary. Eas­ton Park in Fox­ton, Bar­ber’s Bush re­serve and Thomp­son house and gardens were all gifted to the coun­cil.

Judd, Cr Chris­tine Mitchell and mayor Michael Feyen voted against pur­chas­ing the $1 land.

All oth­ers present voted for the sale to go ahead: Bishop, and coun­cil­lors Piri-Hira Tuka­pua, Bernie Wan­den, Neville Gim­blett, Ma­son and Bran­ni­gan.

Coun­cil­lors Ross Camp­bell and Vic­to­ria Kaye-Simmons were not present.

The coun­cil spent about $1.76 mil­lion on 690 hectares of parks and re­serves in 2016 to 2017.

Coun­cil parks and prop­erty man­ager Arthur Nel­son said the coun­cil main­tained all its re­serves ex­cept for the Manakau Do­main, which was main­tained by Manakau United.

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