Forrester Drive residents want clarification about what Tauranga City Council deems "an encroachment" after being asked to remove theirs from the Esplanade Reserve.
In a letter sent out at the end of November, residents were told council staff were making plans to address encroachments around Tauranga Harbour.
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It was part of work to address encroachments in Tauranga Harbour, following the end of a 10-year project to remove them from the Mount Maunganui and Pāpāmoa coastlines.
The reserve provides a walkway link between Tye Park and Welcome Bay Road.
The council's manager of spaces and places, Mark Smith, said as part of restoring public access to the reserve, residents had been asked to remove any non-structural encroachments.
These included wooden and wire fences, steps, and timber edgings. The council would remove any remaining non-structural encroachments.
"We will not remove seawalls," Smith said.
The letter has angered one Forrester Dr resident who said instead of being thanked for preserving the stretch of land between his home and the sea for the past three decades, he feels like he has been told his endeavours were an inconvenience.
"We don't understand what council means by an encroachment," said the resident, who did not want to be named. "Presumably council staff will come to each property individually and explain this to us."
He said he did not believe mature trees on the reserve could be deemed an encroachment as they beautified the area nor could the seawall.
"I have built a seawall, with permission from Harbour Board as they were at the time, planted trees and made a garden at my own expense. I will not be paying to have trees removed or a seawall taken down and I know I am not alone - to hell with that."
"I firmly believe that, if we had not built the seawall, there would not be any reserve bordering my property, it would have washed away."
As part of council's Encroachments onto Reserves Policy 2006, an encroachment is defined as an unauthorised occupation, development or use of council administered land for private benefit. Encroachments may include any wall, steps, fence, garden furniture, lawns, garden plants or concrete paths which extend beyond the property owners' legal boundary into a reserve.
"We appreciate this is a significant change for the residents along the seaward side of Forrester Drive, and we will work together with them as this project progresses," Smith said.
"We are aware some members of the community are concerned about the current use of esplanade reserve in the Forrester Dr area for private purposes however council has an active plan for the removal of these encroachments."
Welcome Bay resident Chris Doms, who has been campaigning for public access to the reserve for the past 18 months, said he was happy with the way the matter was progressing.
"The way I look at it, council - if fact ratepayers - have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on keeping those seawalls in good repair. That includes $800,000 quite recently," Doms said.
"It's just total bullshit for Forrester Dr residents to say the seawall and maintenance of the seawall has come from their pockets.
"Some residents have beautified the wall while others haven't but it's complete nonsense for residents to say they're keeping the seawall up when council are paying so much toward it."
Doms said he did not consider the odd tree or a garden as an "egregious" encroachment.
"It's the fences that go all the way down to the water that prevent access," he said.
"The thing that annoys me about the residents is they are using things like certain trees being a protected species as an argument but it's just deflecting from the fact they have effectively blocked off a public space at both ends."
Doms said he was looking forward to the reserve being accessible to the public as, he believed, were many others.
Residents have been given until next month to remove the encroachments.
The council aimed to have the reserve accessible by the end of February and construction of boardwalks complete by December next year.
Small sections of boardwalks will be constructed, but the bulk will be mown grass left after encroachments have been removed.