Outcasts hope for full payout by Xmas
Christchurch Earthquake 2011
Ernest Tsao is hoping Christchurch landowners battling for a full Government buyout offer for their red-zoned properties receive an early Christmas present.
In August, his 68-strong Quake Outcasts group and Fowler Developments Ltd won a judicial review of the Government's offer to buy uninsured properties and empty sections at 50 per cent of the land valuation.
High Court Justice Graham Panckhurst ruled the offer was unlawful and should be revised.
The Court of Appeal yesterday backed that ruling, but overturned a finding the red zoning process was unlawful.
Outcasts lawyer Grant Cameron told The Press he expected revised offers - at 100 per cent of the land's rateable value (RV) - to be made "well before Christmas".
Tsao, who has argued his uninsured Avondale home is undamaged, said a full Crown offer would be "not so much a present, but something that should have been done two-and-a-half years ago".
Group members should not have to wait until next year for a revised offer, he said.
"It [would] be another Christmas filled with stress, uncertainty and anxiety thanks to this Government."
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said he was "very pleased" the Court of Appeal found the red-zoning was lawful.
He planned to review whether the earlier decisions were "consistent with the purpose of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act".
"We will develop a process for that review over the coming days and will then submit it to the court . . . before any further consideration proceeds," Brownlee said.
The appeal court justices said while the recipients of the 100 per cent offers had, for the main part, been able to apply the proceeds of the Crown offer towards buying a new home elsewhere, "many of the respondents are left in a very precarious position because of the very significant shortfall between the amount derived from the offer and the cost of acquiring a home elsewhere".
"In many cases they are retired and not in a position to take on any significant debt. We acknowledge the significant impact this is having on their lives."
Cameron said the Outcasts group's next move, which could include an appeal to the Supreme Court, would be determined by the revised offer.
"Two courts said the offers were unlawful and we couldn't have expected more than that. The Crown just has to go back and reconsider them," he said.
"It's quite plain there's no legitimate grounds for differentiating between insured people and uninsured, so therefore we anticipate the Crown will make an offer of the 2007 RV. That's all we've ever asked for."
The finding means results of the Port Hills zoning review, which had been delayed for several months, will be released before the end of the week.
Brownlee said the owners of vacant and uninsured Port Hills land would not receive Crown offers until the judicial process had been completed.
Court of Appeal findings:
- Red zone decision did not have any legal effect on the rights or liberties of the affected residents, but "that is not to say they have not had a significant practical impact on landowners".
- 50 per cent offer was not made in accordance with the recovery purposes of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.
- Decision covers all landowners who received a 50 per cent offer, not just those pursuing legal action.
- Full costs awarded to the Outcasts group and Fowler Developments.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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