Nothing my two favourite gardening tools couldn’t fix

Some stroppy landowner wants his hedge to remain in place and has battled a council for years refusing to keep the encroaching hedge on his open property.

Well, his failure to compromise has meant the end of the hedge.

It’s been hacked, barricaded and poisoned, and now the Kapiti mayor says the giant macrocarpa hedge at the centre of a council battle will be chopped.

After a compromise offer from Kapiti Coast District Council was rejected by the owners of the hedge in Waikanae Beach, north of Wellington, mayor K Gurunathan​ said public safety had to be put first.

“There will be no more meetings, no more anything, it will be trimmed.

I’d use my two favourite gardening tools…Roundup and a chain saw…and I would trim it at ground level.

“Legally, we have a complete right to do it. They are council trees on council land.”

Yup, definitely ground level trimming.

The council’s decision is the latest development in an ongoing fight between the Osborne family and the council over the future of the 80-year-old hedge, which is as wide as a bus.

In January, the Osbornes were ordered by the council to cut its roadside frontage after complaints about road safety. Since then, months of negotiation have resulted in a stalemate.

Last month, council gave owners Vince and Raechel  Osborne seven days to agree to a proposal that involved moving the kerb and channel on the southern side of Te Moana Rd two metres north.

The work was costed at $82,000, which the council believed a community group was prepared to meet through donations and fundraising.

WTF! Cut the damn thing down.

On Friday, Vince Osborne said it was an unreasonable deadline, and the couple were not prepared to pay without more information.

He believed the work could be done for about $20,000, which he was prepared to pay.

“They wanted us to pay for 180 metres of kerbing and channelling, and our frontage is about a quarter of that.”

So what! Why are the council contemplating moving the kerb? Just cut the hedge down, it isn’t his anyway.

He said the council had since withdrawn the proposal and told the Osbornes the hedge would be cut back in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, someone sprayed a 1.5-metre-high line of poison along the trees in the hedge.

Raechel​ Osborne said the battle had taken its toll on her family and she had been “devastated” by the poisoning. “I just cannot believe somebody in this community could do this to us.

I can believe it, you’re arseholes.

“This doesn’t feel like the community I’ve lived in for so long. We just feel very sad about everything.”

She said the couple had been warned that if they tried to prevent council workers cutting the hedge, they would be breaking the law.

“I won’t be able to watch them do it.”

There’s so many places to live people are forced to sell them or rent them…leave if you don’t like it.

Gurunathan said on Friday he “had bent over backwards” to try to find a solution to the dispute.

“It’s cost ratepayers between $10,000 and $15,000 so far, and there will be no more discussion. This is the end.”

Contractors would cut a corridor in the trees “in the next few weeks”, and the council would pay to have a path and fence built along the hedge corridor, he said.

“We are legally obliged to act to protect the safety of people. They [the Osbornes] are blackmailing the council to stop us from doing our job.”

Chop, chop.

 

-Fairfax


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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