An Auckland lawyer who filed a class action on behalf of Bella Vista residents in Tauranga says the city council has been slower than expected to front up with an offer.
Tauranga City Council was served with the legal proceedings late on June 1. Five days later, councillors unanimously voted in principle to buy the 21 Bella Vista Homes which were part of the failed subdivision at The Lakes.
The council said on June 6 that it would look to begin negotiations with the homeowners to achieve full and final settlement.
It said there was no time frame set for the negotiations, but it would move as quickly as possible to have the matter resolved.
That was 46 days ago.
The class-action lawsuit, filed by David Heaney QC in the Tauranga District Court, is now due to have its first court conference.
A date for the conference has not been set yet but is expected to take place in the next three or four weeks, Heaney told the Bay of Plenty Times on Monday.
"They [the council] have been slower than I thought to front up with an offer, given the June 6 meeting where they undertook to progress matters. It seems to have taken quite a while for anything to happen. Well, quite a while for nothing to happen."
Heaney said the future of the class action did not depend on what the council came out with.
It would be going ahead regardless, "unless it settles beforehand".
Lee and Denese Konowe and Ron and Sarah McDiarmid were still the only Bella Vista households named in the proceedings.
"At the moment there aren't many people participating in the class action, but I suspect unless the offers by the council are substantial and acceptable, I would think the wise thing for the others not already involved would be for them to join into the class action," Heaney said.
"As far as I'm concerned, we just track on down the court action path until they come up with an offer that is acceptable and at the moment, nothing seems to be happening."
The other 19 Bella Vista homeowners have engaged Tauranga-based barrister Nathan Smith as their lawyer.
Smith told the Bay of Plenty Times on Monday that his clients had not issued legal proceedings yet.
"I'll be interested of course to hear what the council's saying, what they're going to offer."
Council chief executive Garry Poole said the council had been in regular dialogue with the homeowners' lawyers since June 6 and was working hard to progress matters for the homeowners.
"Every effort is being made to progress things as quickly as possible. Today's [Monday] confidential council meeting is to discuss the draft settlement offer. This is a complex matter that the council wants to ensure is resolved properly," he said.
Poole said the reason the meeting was confidential was to maintain legal professional privilege and enable the council to carry on negotiations without prejudice or disadvantage.
A request to conduct invasive testing on the properties in the Bella Vista subdivision was not related to property settlement agreements, Poole said.
He said the council sent requests on Monday to conduct further testing on some of the properties.
"There was some concern that this would impact on settlement amounts or delay offers being made. This is not the case," he said. "It is purely related to our function as a regulatory body."
Poole said settlement negotiations would proceed shortly.