Onus on council to ensure property owners mow verges

Waikato District Council is being criticised for letting the grass grow under its feet regarding the Grass Verges Policy adopted in September last year.

The policy, which was developed to keep on top of burgeoning mowing maintenance costs, puts the onus on adjacent landowners to mow verges, however the Raglan Community Board says it’s not working and many property owners who used to have their verges mown are in the dark about their new obligation.

Community board member Alan Vink said the main roads in Raglan weren’t looking flash and it was council’s responsibility to get it sorted.

“Some home owners could mow and don’t, others don’t know whether they should or not and others can’t.

“The issue is not with the contractors. Council needs to make it clear, say to the house owner, ‘hey you need to do this’.”

Waikato District councillor Lisa Thompson said when Raglan Lawns took over the mowing contract in Raglan it was discovered that the previous contractor, the council-owned company Strada, had been mowing more berms than it had been contracted to do.

While council had contacted property owners whose berms it had knowingly previously mowed of their new responsibilities, “there are a lot of places not being mown now that weren’t on the list”.

Ms Thomson said about 12 residents had contacted her about their berms no longer being mowed, but there would be more, and she had been taking photos and taking their concerns to council.

She said they were primarily residents who lived on Bow St, the main road into town.

“There is confusion around the process, how people were informed. It was in the Chronicle and on the website but obviously that didn’t reach everyone.

“It’s a really difficult position for Raglan Lawns to be in because they are doing what they are contracted to do, while residents have expectations about what should be done.

“I have said I will do my best to people who have spoken to me.  But I don’t know if that will have good results for us.”

Raglan resident Marty Davies, who lives on the corner of Bow St and Snowden Pl, said there had been a total lack of communication by council regarding the mowing of his verge.

“They stopped mowing in September without consultation,” said Marty, who has contacted council about five times without results.

“Apparently we weren’t on the council list but they have been mowing it for years.”

Marty said he was digging in his heels about mowing the verge because his ride-on mower couldn’t handle the steepness of it and he had been mowing council land next door for years, “otherwise it looks like a hay paddock”.

“We think they can scratch our backs, too.

“I spent 3k on the ride-on to mow their bit and my bit … they widened the road and made the verge steeper in the process.”

WDC service delivery general manager Tim Harty said the Grass Verge Policy went through full consultation with the community.

“There were many verges – and other areas – that were being maintained by council’s previous contractor that council was not aware of and were not council properties.

“If a property was missed off the mailing list (then) council has dealt with it on a case by case basis as it has become aware of it.”

He said the council had received 47 applications for an exemption from mowing verges and now mowed 28 in Raglan.

Mr Harty said there was no enforcement measure in the policy.

“We would love to see our residents in our towns taking pride in the appearance of where they live.” Inger Vos