Waimea Village has turned a corner under the new shared management of former Tasman District councillor Kit Maling and its residents couldn't be happier.
"It's a new beginning," residents' committee chairman Jerry Rowland said.
Residents of the 172-home village had been embroiled in a bitter two-year dispute with former owners Michael and Carolyn Wright over increasing management fees.
Kit and residents signed a deal to buy the property last year for an undisclosed amount and management was handed over to residents.
At the time Kit said the deal would be able to proceed if 100 of the homeowners each bought a share worth $8200, with several options for how to do that.
It is now run by a residents' committee and a five-member board of directors which comprises of two village residents along with Trevor Tuffnell, Patrick Adamson and Malcolm Saunders.
Kit said this week that 140 residents had signed up to become shareholders who now paid a monthly service fee of $135, to reflect their capital investment. Non-shareholding residents paid $182.75 - less than what the Wrights had sought. The fees would remain at that level until the village built up a maintenance fund of about $250,000. Deferred maintenance would take place around the village to avoid paying tax on any lump sum saved, he said.
Kit spends about 20 hours a week managing the village which also employs a gardener about five hours a week to do work on the common ground.
"The residents do the little jobs around the village and are helping each other - there is a real spirit of co-operation now," he said.
Jerry said the village's atmosphere had changed entirely since the November 25 purchase."It's gone back to what it was like many, many years ago. There is no anxiety any more - no uncertainty in the future about levy increases, back pay and court cases - they [residents] do not have that worry any more."
The village has about 250 residents occupying 172 houses. People own their houses and pay rates to the Tasman District Council but lease the land from the village management.
Eighty-five per cent of the village's residents are retired and many are widowed women.
Jerry said there were also a couple of young families.
He said the property values across the community had risen since the dispute was resolved but more importantly the residents were happy and felt secure.
"In buying the village the one thing that has strengthened is the dignity people have, not just in themselves but as a group."
The fact shares in the village bought by residents were tied to their homes and could not be sold on the open market added to the village's security, he said.
"Kit Maling has done a beautiful job. And the wider community, in particular a small group of people, have been incredibly supportive. We just hung in there - it was as stressful as hell but in the end we got there - and it is like a breath of fresh air," Jerry said.
- The Nelson Mail