Council says it won't mow reserve land

By Lindy Laird

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Onerahi resident Hilary Edmunds is insulted that Whangarei District staff have suggested she ask for a Work and Income grant to cut the large roadside reserve outside her house.

The council has a policy to not mow berms - no exception, but there is a Work and Income policy in place to help some residents who can't do the job themselves, roading manager Jeff Devine told her.

If the council agreed to mow outside Mrs Edmunds' property then it would have to agree to do her neighbours' too, and hundreds of other similar cases, Mr Devine said. The council hasn't done that mowing work for 15 years, nor has there been a drive from the public to have such work reinstated, he said. If it were of concern, then ratepayers would have voiced it through the Annual and the Long Term Plans' submission processes.

And rates would have to go up to cover the cost, Mr Devine said.

All berms are actually road reserve but council reserves such as public parks and playgrounds do get cut regularly.

And when it comes to what the council classifies as a berm, size doesn't matter.

The same no-mow policy that applies to a narrow strip of grass between a suburban house and road applies to the sweeping 21-by-45 metre wedge of reserve outside Mrs Edmunds' house.

The only time the council would mow the sweep of land on a bend at the bottom of the hill Whangarei Heads Rd was if the grass grew so high it became a traffic or fire hazard, Mr Devine said. He estimated that even then it would likely be only a once-a-year job.

Seventy-something year old Mrs Edmunds has paid - and will probably continue to pay - to have the area, intersected by the council's kowhai trees and curving footpath, mowed.

"But the situation is ridiculous, insulting, and I'm bitterly disappointed. Talk about passing the buck! They want to me to go to Work and Income for a grant, as if the money is the only issue here.

"If it were just a strip of grass then of course I'd mow it, but this thing is bigger than most people's sections."

Mrs Edmunds isn't impressed with the mixed messages she has received, either. On the one hand, she has been told mowing berms isn't the council's responsibility but the adjacent property owners'; on the other the council doesn't much care if the property owners don't mow them, either.

"But in all conscience I couldn't just leave the grass and weeds to grow wild on this sized area. I couldn't do that to my neighbours let alone put up with how unattractive it would look. This is just not fair on me or my neighbours," Mrs Edmunds said.

- Northern Advocate

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