Dust nuisance closes driveway

There might be a smiley face on the sign, but the Olde Berry Farm’s Peter Molloy is far from happy about the closure of his driveway.

Having to close their main driveway and use another access 70 metres down the road instead might not seem like a big deal, it’s left a sour taste in the mouths of the owners of the Olde Berry Farm.

Original plans for the farm saw the driveway decommissioned, and resource consent was granted by the Waikato Regional Council with the condition that this would happen.  A section by the new driveway was planned for development into a retail store, however co-owners Peter and wife ??’s children who were driving the initiative moved to Australia instead.

Peter assumed it would be no problem to vary the consent for the farm they co-own with business partner Michael Jiang, however this was not accepted by council and the driveway was ordered to be closed, following complaints from a neighbour about excessive dust.

Ana Maria d’Aubert, Waikato District Council consents manager said Mr Molloy had communicated to council that his circumstances had changed. “He asked if he could keep the existing entrance open because of his desire to provide and in/out circulation of traffic to the berry shop using two entrances (given he was no longer going to relocate his shop).  Staff have advised him that he would need to apply for permission to do so, and given the dust issues, would need to mitigate this by sealing the drive. He indicated that he intended to put an application in to Council, but no timeframe was given.”

It’s cost them more than $5,000 try to fix the dust issue, Peter reckons, with an irrigation system they had installed to mitigate the dust coming off their decommissioned driveway now sitting idle.  The new accessway will need irrigation put in at significant cost, as well as a mirror so motorists can check for oncoming traffic as they navigate a hairpin bend.  “We were 100% happy with the irrigation,” Peter said, “but the neighbour wasn’t, and we weren’t given the opportunity to fix it.”

Ana Maria d’Aubert said the closure of the driveway was a foregone conclusion because of the consent, however in response to Mr Molloy’s indication that he wanted to apply to have the entrance remain open, staff were trying to provide some flexibility to him to pursue this avenue but emphasised that he would need to manage the dust situation.  “Staff provided reasonable flexibility and timeliness, but clearly with complaints and staff visits verifying dust nuisance, this was not being manged adequately.”

To add insult to injury, Peter said they were given less than 48 hours to make the change and they now have to restore the berm to its original state. “There remains ongoing obligations on Mr Molloy to formally decommission it (remove metal from road reserve and reinstate the berm).  Once done, Council will return a bond of $7000 to Mr Molloy,” Ana Maria d’Aubert said.

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