Horror maze dispute ramps up
A dispute resulting in Prebbleton's horror maze closing is heating up as owners contest a noise reading made by the Selwyn District Council.
Doug Middlemiss, who runs the Christchurch maze attraction with partner Ali Kyme, last week received an ultimatum from the council to reduce noise levels or close.
Council acting environmental services manager Tim Harris previously said the council had received multiple complaints about the maze.
''Most complaints relate to noise, but we've also had complaints about nuisance from the site, traffic and disruption to residents late at night,'' he said.
As a result, an abatement notice was issued which required the maze to reduce their noise levels to those allowed in the district plan, Harris said.
However, the noise levels continued to exceed the limit.
Harris was unavailable for comment this morning.
Speaking today Middlemiss, said his lawyer had sent a letter to the council highlighting ''numerous flaws'' in the way it conducted a noise reading last month.
''On the same night ... we had a guy from Marshall Day Acoustics who was doing a reading but it was too windy ... he spoke to the council and their guy agreed.''
He said when wind exceeded a certain level a noise reading would be incorrect.
''The neighbours have properties that are surrounded by trees and on a windy night it can make quite a racket,'' he said.
He wanted the council to do another reading and hoped his business could reopen.
His 50 part-time staff, mainly students, were ''pretty gutted'' about the temporary closure, he said.
Middlemiss said three neighbours had complained and he felt district councillor Malcolm Lyall was ''siding with them''.
Selwyn District Mayor Kelvin Coe said he had been contacted by a neighbour who was in support of the maze.
If the business could comply with noise levels then he saw no reason for it to remain closed.
''It's a dispute between neighbours and the council has ended up in the middle.''
He was aware that Middlemiss was disputing a noise reading but said the maze had ''voluntarily closed''.
''When people get an answer that doesn't suit them it's always done incorrectly and at the wrong place or whatever ... they aren't far outside the noise requirements so it shouldn't be hard for them to comply.''
However, Middlemiss said he received an email from the council on February 27 asking ''what our intentions were with regards to continuing to operate'' and requesting a response by the next morning.
''We didn't want to be fined so we closed,'' he said.
''In an interview on [Radio New Zealand this morning] Tim Harris said the council was willing to work with us ... They have never approached us or asked us to sit down to talk about issues.''
Lyall said if the maze was operating in a business zone then he would ''fully support it'' but said Middlemiss had ''found a loop-hole'' in the council's district plan.
''It says 12 temporary events are allowed each year and that is what he's using for his business ... but by the conditions of those events he's in breach of noise limits.''
Lyall did not want to go into the ''personal comments'' made by Middlemiss saying: ''I have no interest in getting into a slanging match''.
''It's upsetting locals and I understand he does not have resource consent for his business at the moment ... but he has put an application in.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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