Realignment dispute bill likely to top $1m

Doug Hall
Doug Hall
The ratepayer bill for a dispute between the Dunedin City Council and one of its city councillors is set to pass $1 million.

And the cost of the long-running dispute with Dunedin businessman and new councillor Doug Hall will climb further with an Environment Court hearing to be held later this year, and potentially even higher if the council has to pay a settlement after that.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says the bill is another negative outcome of rushing Forsyth Barr Stadium into existence - the road in dispute had to be realigned around the new stadium in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup - and while it is an ''unfortunate tangle'' it cannot now be undone.

The council has spent more than $570,000 to date on the tussle with Cr Hall, including on legal fees, traffic management at an intersection where traffic lights cannot be turned on until the dispute is settled, and some of Cr Hall's court costs.

It has also set aside another $550,000 in its draft budget for the 2014-15 financial year for building a new access road into Cr Hall's property.

Part of the money already spent by the council was to start a second designation process for the highway, which began in August after a previous designation was quashed by the court in 2012 after the council admitted not properly consulting Cr Hall, as an affected landowner, about the road's realignment.

The new access road is part of the proposed new designation, which the council says will address Cr Hall's concerns over safe access to the property.

But Cr Hall has already opposed the redesignation, saying it still does not resolve his concerns, and the matter is to be decided by the Environment Court later this year.

Council infrastructure and networks general manager Tony Avery has previously said the court process could add ''perhaps up to $100,000'' to the total bill.

The council tried unsuccessfully for two years to reach an agreement with Cr Hall through mediation, followed by one-on-one talks between him and then chief executive Paul Orders.

If the court approves the second designation the matter could be ended with the building of the new access road, but if it does not, Cr Hall is expected to seek costs and a settlement.

Mr Cull said ratepayers would not be happy about the bill, which was ''another negative outcome of the haste with which the stadium was progressed''.

Asked where accountability lay, he said many factors were in play: ''Through this whole process there had been legal advice, council decisions, staff decisions. I don't think you could say any one of them, from what I can see, was the major factor. Predictions were made that didn't come true. Negotiations were held in good faith and didn't get anywhere. Mistakes were probably made. Advice that turned out not to be as sound as it could have been was given and received ... It's been an unfortunate tangle, and it's turned out to be an expensive one, and, clearly, if there were a way of undoing that and undoing the costs, we would, but we can't.''

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

Council knows

The only way out of this situation is for them to buy Doug Hall's yard.

They are simply dragging the process out for as long as possible.

The new CEO should be given a clear direction by Council to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible.  Citizens should be asking why Council has not given this direction. 

Lights

It's blatantly obvious that these lights are not and were never required, and neither is that stupid traffic island in front of the Mobil gas station. Just rip them out and place them somewhere else to annoy the motorists of Dunedin. I'm sure there is another location they can be a pain.

Intersection

Yes, the previous situation where it went into an intersection that was controlled by a give way was much better...

Send an invoice for payment

Clearly those that were doing their best to push the stadium through were primarily at fault here and it is those that should be accountable for any costs that ensue.  I would suggest therefore that all such costs are delivered to the CST in the shape of an invoice.  It has nothing to do with the ratepayers.

Come on Dave

Mr Cull is quoted as saying "another negative outcome of the haste with which the stadium was progressed''.

Isn't this the Dave Cull who was on the DCC that approved the stadium?

Hey, just thought Doug might relocate to the stadium. Yeah, right. 

Just make a decision

Stop wasting money deciding who's right. Just come up with a solution and do it. Either the road needs to be moved or Mr Hall needs new access provided for the yard. The media has been trying to paint Mr Hall as the culprit and moneywaster here, but I definitely side with him and would be surprised if the majority of people didn't. Imagine if the end of the driveway into your home went straight out into the middle of a lights-controlled intersection. It's completely mad and so incredibly dangerous.

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