Relief for quake-risk building owners

CAROLINE BROWN
Last updated 12:00 11/07/2014

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The future for owners of earthquake-prone buildings in Rangitikei looks brighter after the district council voted to move forward on an incentives policy, and to offer emergency financial support to one Marton business.

The finance and performance committee discussed a draft policy to offer rates remissions to those who either strengthen or rebuild earthquake-prone buildings.

Rangitikei District Mayor Andy Watson said there was a need for such a package.

"If we don't get rejuvenation, we may as well put up a closed sign in Marton."

Cr Dean McManaway said helping businesses was essential.

"If we don't put our foot forward to help, they will become worthless. How, I don't know, but we have to."

Cr Soraya Peke-Mason said she was in two minds about the policy.

"On the one hand, why even bother with central government legislation under way? But on the other, this is quite visionary, with the mayor and others wanting to help businesses and help and encourage our district."

The mayor said at this stage the council should all agree "yes, please" they wanted the policy, and they would argue the various aspects later. The councillors were all in favour.

The meeting then turned to a letter sent to the mayor from Property Brokers managing director Tim Mordaunt.

It requested assistance from the council for rebuilding of the company's premises at 304-318 Broadway, Marton, which it had to vacate for safety reasons.

Watson described it as a "heaven-sent" opportunity for Marton.

He said he would like the council to give assistance to signal that Property Brokers was taking a very brave step. Assistance would need to come in the form of a grant, if agreed to by the council.

Watson tabled three suggestions: that the council absorb hearing costs for resource consent; that it grant Property Brokers a $5000 rates remission, conditional on the space being unoccupied during work and the rebuild taking place; and that it cover the internal costs of consent.

Watson said Property Brokers had presented the council with the plan to rebuild on the site, retaining heritage features and one building facade. Cr Lynne Sheridan said she did not want to rush in to help and set a precedent.

Watson said it was important to work on a case-by-case basis when it came to the district's economic development.

McManaway said he was happy to replicate it in the future. "In the scale of things, $5000 is petty cash to us when we think about what could be achieved with this build. We'll get it back in gold bullion."

McManaway said the district had been treading water for some time.

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Sheridan and Cr Ruth Rainey questioned the need for such urgency.

Watson said Property Brokers had other options.

"There's the Foxtons and the Dannevirkes. We have to send a clear message - we welcome this."

The motions were put to the vote, passing with only Sheridan against.

Watson requested further information around consent costs for the next meeting.

- Manawatu Standard

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