Attitudes are hardening up on both sides of the Bella Vista homes dispute as the council tells home owners they will receive no more support from April 12.
The residents of 13 homes on Lakes Boulevard have had accommodation paid for since they were evicted on March 9.
Last night, Tauranga City Council CEO Garry Poole told residents their accommodation and security is costing council $65,000 a week, and the council is not paying after April 12.
From then, the residents who are paying mortgages, rates, and bills on consented homes that they are not permitted to live in, may have to find other accommodation.
It didn’t go down well.
One couple with four dogs currently housed in commercial kennels at council cost, asked where they could rent that would accept the dogs.
Residents have been offered three options:
Remediation: The council will pay for the houses to be remediated to the satisfaction of the bevy of experts now involved, with the costs recouped by the council when the houses are eventually on-sold.
The second option is for the council to buy the properties, demolish the buildings and sell the land to a developer.
The third option is for council to carry out only its statutory functions, complete the assessments, issue notices and provide no further assistance.
“No decision has been made by elected members. We are in an information gathering phase and will continue to explore what is possible,” says city council CEO group general manager Kirsty Downey.
“This is very much a work in progress we want to be as open as we can be. This is hard hitting and is not what you expected to hear from us tonight.”
Since residents were ordered out on March 9 the council has been assessing the homes and the ground conditions using ground penetrating radar.
Four homes have has section of GIB wall removed so the structure could be checked. Two of the four have the same defects as three incomplete buildings onsite, says Kirsty.
Claimed issues with basement concrete block walls were challenged from the floor by residents saying any water and drainage issues will disappear if council allows the retaining and drainage work to proceed.
Hilton Miller says the council is not following accepted practice. First the issues are identified and fixed. The retaining wall is relatively simple. Cracks in the ground can be filled.
“And then your lawyer talks to my lawyer, the blame game, to me that comes later.”
He describes the council process as disingenuous, meaning not candid or sincere. Everyone knows the council is at fault because they have houses that were signed off as compliant, says Hilton.
Dr Lee Konowe castigated the council for its treatment of the residents.
The retired psychologist says the affected Lakes Boulevard residents are hugely stressed some of them as bad as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
His home is signed off, he praised the work of his builder contracted to Bella Vista and said the quality of the build was good enough for a former city council building inspector to buy one, across the street.
He says the council’s treatment of the residents has turned a loosely knit bunch of neighbours into a much more resolute group.
“Which is exactly what you probably did not want to happen.”
A woman identifying herself as Jenny asked what went wrong with the Tauranga City council.
“It was safe when we moved in. What went wrong? What happened?
“We have done nothing wrong. You have taken us from our house. What has happened? How has it happened? We came to find answers.”
The standard answer last night was hat the information from the ground penetrating radar and the assessment by geotechnical experts – which are now peer reviewed – are not yet available and decisions cannot yet be made.
In reply to a question about moving costs and could they get a truck in, Kirsty told her that access would be on a request by request basis at the discretion of the geotechnical engineer.
When asked if he was embarrassed by the events, Garry Poole said he was.
Garry was also reproached for saying ‘your problem’ and when challenged agreed it was ‘our problem’.
Questions about what would appear on the property LIM reports if the buildings were remediated, were not answered definitively
Some items on LIM reports are legal requirements, whether the contents of the reports being prepared on the properties will be added, is unable to be answered at this time says Kirsty.
A home owner who asked if the remedial work undertaken ahead of Cyclone Hola was signed off, was told no.
The work was undertaken under the supervision of engineers and done to their satisfaction. City council building inspectors have not yet inspected the work.