Berm row heads to tribunal

By Zaryd Wilson

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Marton home owner Don McMillan is taking Rangitikei District Council to the Disputes Tribunal over berm mowing. Photo/ Stuart Munro
Marton home owner Don McMillan is taking Rangitikei District Council to the Disputes Tribunal over berm mowing. Photo/ Stuart Munro

A Marton home owner is demanding more than $14,000 from the Rangitikei District Council in a dispute over overgrown grass on his property.

Don McMillan last week filed a Disputes Tribunal claim against the council seeking $14,438 in compensation.

Mr McMillan is claiming the majority of that for mowing the berm outside his property between 2007 and 2014.

The dispute started last year when the council sent Mr McMillan warning letters about overgrowth on the berm and inside the property's fence.

The growth was declared a fire hazard by council and Mr McMillan was served with a notice to remove it.

Then council later sent in contractors to clear the property of overgrown vegetation and sent Mr McMillan a $939.50 bill for it.

Now Mr McMillan is claiming money for his time mowing the berm over seven years.

In his submission to the tribunal he argues the berm is council owned and therefore its responsibility to mow.

"Since 2007 I have mowed the berm out of desperation after finding the RDC failed to do so."

When he was being told by council to cut his grass he was sent photos to highlight the overgrowth. Most were of the berm, not inside his property, he said.

"Using these photos the RDC has attempted by false pretences to get me to continue mowing the berm.

Mr McMillan also says the council entering his property and mowing his lawn under fire hazard regulations was an attempt to coerce him into mowing the berm.

He is also seeking compensation for plants he says were destroyed when the council contractors mowed the property.

A spokesperson said council had just learned of Mr McMillan's claim and could not comment until it had seen it.

In March a resident sent a $7000 bill to the council for 10 years of mowing the berm outside their property. Mr McMillan said it wasn't him.

Then, a council statement said: "It is a long-standing practice for residents in cities/towns/villages across New Zealand to mow the grass verge in front of their property ... as this is considered part and parcel of being a good citizen."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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