Town vs country in neighbourhood noise war

By Morgan Tait of Hawke's Bay Today -
Problems reached boiling point in 2008, when Mrs Street's sons made a mini motocross track in one of the paddocks. Photo / Thinkstock
Problems reached boiling point in 2008, when Mrs Street's sons made a mini motocross track in one of the paddocks. Photo / Thinkstock

A heated neighbourhood feud in a rural Hawkes Bay community has highlighted the dilemma of urban sprawl in city fringe areas.

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

Lizzy Street said a neighbour whose property bordered hers called police earlier this month 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 but no action was taken.

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

"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 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 Hawkes 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 neighbour said he did not want to comment on the clay bird shooting incident as it may "inflame things".

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 a balance 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."

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