Gate solution doesn't satisfy hoarder's neighbours

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 15:10 21/09/2012
Junk house
COLIN SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

LOOK HERE: The view of the front yard of Jeffrey Gill’s Cambria St house taken from a neighbour’s property.

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The long-running saga of a man's fondness of junk has been resolved, says Nelson's environmental inspections team - but not the neighbours.

The junk is still there, but now hidden behind a large gate installed as part of a court order.

Cambria St resident Jeffrey Gill, a part-time artist, owns the two houses on the large site which for several years has been strewn with items he has collected.

The property has been the subject of concern from neighbours and nearby residents for the past few years, and a long-running legal fight which ended in March.

Neighbours Mike and Nano Tunnicliff were among those who spoke out early on about the situation through concern for the health and safety of their three children, as well as the level of care available to Gill.

Tunnicliff said this week that despite an official report saying the problem was solved, their view was that it had not been.

"We've gone down the right lines and done everything possible, but it looks no different than it did at the peak of the problem," Tunnicliff said.

The Environmental Inspections company's annual report to the city council noted the "prolonged saga" of material stored at the Cambria St address had "finally come to an end" in March when the owner finally complied with a December 2010 Environment Court order, although not before the matter was put through the Court of Appeal.

In late 2009 Mr Gill was ordered to pay the city council $10,180 in costs for a major cleanup of the site earlier that year. The council applied for costs against Mr Gill after earlier gaining permission from the Environment Court to step in and clean up his property.

Truckloads of junk were carted away by Nelmac staff in May 2009, after Gill failed to meet an Environment Court-ordered deadline to clean up the property by the end of January that year.

Part of a December 2010 court order was that Gill had to contain material so it was not visible from the street or neighbouring properties.

The lawyer representing Gill, Luke Acland, said Gill was complying with the order in that the Nelson resource management plan permitted people to store materials outside their properties, unless it was visible to the public from the road or by neighbours.

Tunnicliff said Gill had installed a large gate on the roadfront, which he could not open and instead used a ladder to climb over to get in and out of the property.

"If you have a quick look over the fence, it's still bad. We can see it from our window but apparently that doesn't matter.

"There aren't as many rats as there were but the main thing is the stench - all the materials stored give off a funny smell," Tunnicliff said.

Acland said issues around smell were never alleged during the court process, but the materials on Gill's property were non-perishable, such as wood, glass, metals and plastic, which he was still collecting.

Nelson's environmental inspections manager Stephen Lawrence said there had been no further complaints since compliance was achieved.

Tunnicliff said the best they could do now was try to ignore it, or move away if they could afford to.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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