Land ownership issue muddies payment matter

Confusion over land ownership at the Otematata Golf Club threatened to muddy an already contentious issue surrounding power poles during a meeting of the Ahuriri Community Board this week.

The golf club owes the Waitaki District Council more than $5000 for the replacement of power poles that allowed it to use electricity provided to a wastewater treatment plant, which in turn meant the club was able to irrigate its greens.

In the past the club drew water from the Waitaki Valley township’s public supply, which was metered and came at a large cost to the small club, despite being charged at a discounted rate of 50%.

A bore was eventually established on the course close to the water treatment plant, which meant the club was able to gain consent for its water take by relinquishing a volume from the public supply, equivalent to the volume it was metered for.

The club also approached the council about using the plant’s power supply to run its new irrigation system, which was agreed to by the council provided the club paid 50% of the power pole replacement costs, formally agreed to pay 50% of future infrastructure maintenance costs and established formal easements across the plant’s land.

However, the club failed to meet any of those obligations and owes $5687.37, despite the power supply being installed, citing confusion over who owned the land.

The council ended up footing the bill to Network Waitaki, at the expense of ratepayers.

A report tabled at the meeting on Monday recommended the board vote to ask the club to pay the bill and adhere to the two other provisions.

However, board member Brent Cowles moved a second recommendation — that the bill be funded by ratepayers, and that land ownership issues be addressed separately.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher offered $2000 from the mayoral fund, which was formally accepted by the board.

The remaining money owed will be funded through the township’s sewerage infrastructure rate.

However, the issue of land ownership remained, board chairwoman Vicky Munro said.

"The easement is not quite as simple because we are not sure who owns the land that the easement has got to go over. If it was council land it would be easy. But the land, part of the course, is owned by Land Information New Zealand and there is another small section owned by Meridian.

"The word LINZ sends a shiver down my back. It takes many, many months, years — to deal with LINZ on different issues and the reason why I have brought this up is because the golf course is very well maintained by all its volunteers. The work that is put in to that facility and the recreational benefit it has to our town is huge."

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