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NZ's silliest council regulations

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  • NZ's silliest council regulations

    NZ's silliest council regulations
    By ESTHER HARWARD - Sunday Star Times
    Last updated 23:20 07/03/2009

    Children who play in a sandpit and adults who change the position of the taps on their bathroom sink are in danger of breaking the law because they are not adhering to some of New Zealand's silliest council regulations.

    Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has declared himself an enemy of council red tape, so the Sunday Star-Times set out to see if there are any regulations that are less than entirely sensible. And we came up trumps.

    In Palmerston North, you may need smoke alarms in your house if you're putting a swimming pool in the garden.

    And since Wellington introduced "plan change 65" in July, a resource consent has been needed to dig a hole with walls steeper than 63.

    Exemptions to the rule include gardening, grave-digging, putting in a letterbox and topdressing a field but not digging in a sandpit.

    And while an errant sandpit creation might just slip past the council's inspectors, that's not the case for cable cars.

    Mark Galvin, whose company builds cable cars, has been waiting eight months for Wellington City Council to approve a domestic cable car to take a wheelchair-bound client from the roadside to her home.

    His client has paid $9000 to the council and professional consultants to fill out council forms, but is still waiting for a final consent.

    And there is more madness:

    In Christchurch you must put your wheelie rubbish bins a minimum of 50cm apart.

    In Manukau you need a building consent if you move a toilet to the opposite corner of the bathroom.

    In Waimakariri district you can't build within 250m of another property if the other owner spreads pig effluent on their lawn.

    In Invercargill you need a building consent to change tap positions in a sink.

    In South Wairarapa you can't camp at Te Awaiti Reserve on the edge of the Oterei River for more than two weeks.

    Putting in an above-ground swimming pool in Waitakere requires a building consent, plus a $1000 deposit in case a builder's truck damages the road.

    Paul Bailey, who installs Para swimming pools in Palmerston North, says he can't get a building consent for a client's pool unless she installs smoke alarms within three metres of her bedrooms.

    He says council staff told him the pool fence could potentially catch on fire, and flames could run along the fence to the house.

    "[The client] was able to see the funny side of it, but I felt like a pervert," he says. "I'm building a swimming pool, I'm not going inside her house. Next they'll be asking what colour your bathroom is."

    Hide says the leaky building scare and the government's own Resource Management Act is partly to blame for councils being overzealous.

    "We've put the responsibility back on to councils if any idiot does something stupid, so councils have got so risk-averse that to do anything on your property, you've got to get permission."

    The government has promised to dump more council rules after last month proposing initial RMA changes, including blanket tree protection orders in urban areas.

    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx