Support rolls in for Nelson man in fence fight with council

Rowan Macdonald and his Mill St fence which the Nelson City Council has deemed unacceptable.
Martin de Ruyter

Rowan Macdonald and his Mill St fence which the Nelson City Council has deemed unacceptable.

Nelson man Rowan Macdonald has been both astonished and "a bit humbled" by the wave of public support he's got in his fence fight with the Nelson City Council.

Macdonald reckons that the council made up the rule that there should a 25 millimetre gap between the palings on the fence he built around two sides of his Mill St home so that it will be "visually permeable".

He was sufficiently upset by the abatement notice the council issued him that he raised it at a government Rules Reduction Taskforce meeting last week and once his story was publicised the support came rolling in.


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There were more than 450 comments posted on the Nelson Mail website alone, and Macdonald said he had also been getting cards and other messages from people who also think the council has got it wrong.

Overwhelmingly in favour of Macdonald's stance, the messages also contain a streak of humour. 

A sample: "So wrong. such rules bordering on dictatorship. When we had a neighbour who insisted on sunbathing nude we definitely wanted a solid fence!"

"Noah fence councillors, But I know when I see a nice fence, And that is one nice fence!​"

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"Man walking, sees a knothole in a fence, and hears a voice going 13,13,13, he looks through the knothole and gets poked right in eye and the voice goes 14,14,14."

"​Don't worry Rowan, I think council workers are so thick skinned today that they no longer know how to take a-fence​."

The council has said new fence rules in place since  2012 aim to create more streetscape openness and a better sense of safety.

​Someone walking down the street should be able to see through the fence into the property, it said.  ​

Macdonald had been advised that his fence was in breach.  He could apply for a resource consent for the fence as it stands, or alter it. He'd elected to do neither, the council said.

Macdonald, who owns Tahunanui business Air Products Ltd,  said he'd filed papers with the Environment Court on Monday, appealing the abatement notice and seeking a stay on it, and was waiting to hear what the next step would be.  

"I can't go anywhere without somebody stopping me at the moment. Overwhelmingly people have been really supportive of me taking the council to task on this."

He said he'd never sought the limelight and was very appreciative and humbled by the support he'd been getting. He had even been visited by a crew from TV3's Campbell Live. 

He expects the court action to go ahead. 

​"To be honest, I'd be astounded if the council backed down." 

He said the first he knew of the council's action was when his wife approached a man seen examining the fence and asked him what he was doing. He'd told her he was a council officer acting on an anonymous complaint. 

He didn't know who had complained.

"Whoever made the complaint has got to feel pretty small now," Macdonald said. 

 - Stuff


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