Lives on hold in zoning review wait

GEORGINA STYLIANOU AND NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2013

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Port Hills homeowners still waiting for the results of a land-zoning review after Canterbury's earthquakes are questioning why the Government is analysing an updated report when it said earlier no new data would be considered.

About 142 Port Hills homeowners have been waiting for the results of a land-zoning review since last December, including 51 families who had been unable to return to their homes since the February 2011 quake because of Section 124 notices issued by Christchurch City Council.

The S124 notices - also known as being red stickered - prohibited entry to a building because of safety reasons and had not been removed from the 51 homes, despite the properties being green-zoned by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera).

Last month, the human rights commissioner urged action on the "unconscionable" delay faced by those still waiting, but a timeline was still unavailable, despite the Government already missing five promised deadlines.

Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee told The Press that the zoning review process had almost been completed, but he was waiting on an assessment of an updated GNS Science report.

"Properly assessing this new report is important as it may alter the life risk position, and therefore the final zoning, of some properties. I will announce a date for release of the Port Hills zoning review very soon."

Brownlee acknowledged that affected owners had endured a "tortuous wait", but said he was not willing to take the task lightly.

However, green-zoned, red-stickered homeowner Michelle Lang challenged Brownlee's excuse after Cera said in May that the zoning review would not look at any new information.

At the time, a Cera spokesman told The Press that data produced for homeowners challenging their S124 notices would not be considered in the review.

The Government was satisfied the zoning criteria was "sound and practical", he said.

Lang said the continuing delays did not make sense.

"Why is Cera considering new information when they wouldn't take it earlier. It doesn't sound like they're being transparent.

"We just want to get on with life."

Fellow Port Hills homeowner Mark Coulter said the latest delay was "another blow", especially as some families were put into the review process to sort out the difference between Cera's green-zoning and the council's S124 notices on their properties.

"We didn't have a choice. What really gets me ... is the total lack of transparency.

"If there are some good reasons why this gets delayed time after time, then it might be easier to accept if we knew what actually was happening."

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MISSED DEADLINES

December 2012: Homeowners told to expect decision before Christmas, but postponed until February.

February 2013: Decision still "some weeks away".

April 2013: Announcement to be made at the end of May.

May 2013: Revised time frame of mid to late June given.

July 2013: Decision still "some weeks away".

- The Press

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