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When is a shipping container useful storage or an unwelcome eyesore? Is a rooster a welcome or an unwelcome addition to the street?
And how long is too long when it comes to keeping your lawn down?
A new bylaw being considered by the Waimakariri District Council aims to address untidy properties and nuisance behaviour in communities in the district.
Issues listed under the framework of the proposed bylaw include unkempt properties, hoarding, keeping inappropriate livestock in urban areas, and acting in a way that otherwise constitutes a general nuisance.
The depositing, storage, or accumulation of waste, compost, manure, or offal, for example, is in there, as well as the storage or use of shipping containers, vehicles, vehicle bodies or parts, caravans, or motorhomes.
The proposed bylaw is the result of changes in national legislation, says council resource management planner Garry Blay.
''Fire hazards are no longer currently addressed by council, which limits opportunities to control long grass, in terms of fire risk, in the summer. And overgrown properties can also create a habitat for vermin, which can be a health hazard,'' he says.
However, it is also about about aesthetics and amenity; how people, animals and items on properties are interfering with the peace, comfort, or convenience of neighbours.
''We talked to council staff about the issues we might need to consider under a bylaw like this,'' Garry says.
''We also consulted with other councils around the country about what they have put in place and whether there are measures they have taken that might work for us.''
He says that, if passed, the bylaw will be ratified by the council under the powers bestowed by the Local Government Act 2002, the Health Act 1956, and the Litter Act 1979.
It is envisioned that a complaint under the new bylaw would trigger a reasonable investigation, followed by a monitoring and enforcement response, starting with a talk with the property owner to develop a strategy to resolve the issue.
If the problem remained un-addressed, council staff might end up going out to mitigate the situation, with any resulting costs passed on to the property owner.
A last resort would be conviction under the Local Government Act, resulting in a fine, Garry says.
The consultation process closes on October 21, with public hearings taking place in December. Anyone making a submission has the opportunity to be heard by the council's hearing panel in an open meeting, and can make that request in their submission.
''We want to know whether the whole exercise is necessary or relevant to the district, whether there are too many or too few items on the list, and whether they are the right ones,'' Garry says.
The proposed bylaw can be viewed on the council's website at waimakariri.govt.nz.