Neighbours at war

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A heated neighbourhood feud in a rural Hawke's Bay community is highlighting the dilemma of urban sprawl in city fringe areas.

The Street family in Meeanee, Napier, have occupied a 11-hectare farm in Riverbend Rd for more than 50 years, but say in recent times neighbours have caused endless strife with noise complaints about animals, tractors, motorbikes, duck shooting and, most recently, clay bird shooting.

Lizzy Street said issues existed not with those closest, but two neighbours whose properties bordered theirs. Earlier this month one called police when her son was hosting a clay bird shoot for his 30th birthday.

"They have tried everything to shut us down but they can't because the noise isn't above the decibel levels and we are on our own property and the kids are safe," she said.

"It was the first time we have had clay birds and it would only have taken about an hour because we only had one box."

Police attended the incident but no action was taken.

Mrs Street said the feud had been going for about 10 years since the neighbours moved in.

"I don't know why they think the country is quiet and peaceful because it is not," she said.

"You'd think we carry out these activities all day, every day, but no, it's a once in a while occurrence that they have a problem with every time."

Once the noise from her neighbours woodsaw had upset her stag, causing him to throw himself into the fence and break his back, but she did not complain, she said.

"Once we had a tractor ploughing the field and noise control came out. It's normal rural activity, what do they want us to do, play chess? This is our living, this is how we make our living," Mrs Street said.

Problems reached boiling point in 2008, when her sons made a mini motocross track in one of the paddocks.

"We were part of the Hawke's Bay Motorcycle Club and we had a proper track. We had little 5-year-olds and their parents out here on their minis and they would set up their picnics for a couple of hours on the weekends.

"Noise control couldn't do anything about it. We had to get a lawyer in to point out the legal clarification to the council that everything we were doing was within our rights."

One of the two neighbours was away when Hawke's Bay Today visited, but the other said he did not want to comment on the clay bird shooting incident as it may "inflame things".

"The motorbike issue was just an issue of the time which was ages and ages ago," he said.

"I'm not going to get involved in any [comment to Hawke's Bay Today]."

Mrs Street said the issue was especially relevant as town moved closer to country.

"My sons can't even do their own activities in their own paddock without these complaints," she said.

Napier City Council regulatory services manager Michael Webster said there was a balance that needed to be struck between neighbours going about their business, and others having a reasonable expectation of peace and quiet.

"There is a certain amount of noise that goes with human occupancy of land," he said. "There are some activities that are perfectly reasonable during the day, but that would not be tolerated at say, 10 o'clock at night."

Mr Webster said there was an element of disagreement that came with urban sprawl, for example the Meeanee dog kennel, Pet2Us Kennel and Cattery, conflict earlier this year where newer residents became fed up with the noise from the long-standing kennels.

"I can't say there has been an increase [of complaints due to urban sprawl] but there has been a reasonably consistent stream of complaints about these things.

"Every year we get a few complaints about it and the reality is if you are in an area where there is people around, communication is the key."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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