Green-zoned landowner glad he fought

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2012
Murray Johnson's property
DON SCOTT/Fairfax NZ

ABLE TO BE USED: The back of the New Brighton Rd commercial property that has been rezoned from red to green.

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The owners of the only Christchurch land to be rezoned from red to green say they were determined to "fight it out" to rebuild on the site.

Avonhead couple Murray and Alma Johnson own one of only three Canterbury properties to now be declared safe to use, and the only such property in Christchurch.

The property was changed from red to green as part of the zoning review announced on Friday.

Murray Johnson said the rezoned land, a commercial property in New Brighton, was red-zoned while neighbouring commercial buildings around it were placed in the green zone. The commercial property was formerly used for a packaging business, which the couple sold before the February quake.

"There are other buildings within 10 centimetres of our property, and they were green."

Johnson said his insurance company had offered him alternatives, but he was determined to "fight it out" and get the property rezoned.

He was critical of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), saying he had struggled to find officials who would speak to him about his situation.

"I went three times to the [Cera earthquake assistance] centre to try and get a person to talk to, and every time I failed: the first contact I had with anyone was when the lady rang to say we had been rezoned."

Johnson said he got "quite a buzz" when he was phoned and told the land zoning had been changed.

The rezoning would allow the couple to work with the current tenant and their insurers to put a new building on the site, he said.

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