Couple still waiting for revised offer

Red-zone family may lose more than $100k

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014
couple on vacant section
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

SAD WALK: Port Hills red-zoners Micki Bell and Craig Anderson, pictured with children Adam, 7, and Nina, 5, are disappointed at having to walk away from their dream section.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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A decade of saving and more than $100,000 hangs in the balance for Micki Bell and Craig Anderson.

The couple are waiting on a revised Crown offer for their red-zoned Hillsborough section, but are resigned to the third anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake passing before their future is known.

The process stalled last year because of the Port Hills zoning review and a legal challenge to the Government's offer to buy uninsured properties and empty sections at 50 per cent of the rateable value (RV).

High Court Justice Graham Panckhurst ruled the offer was unlawful and should be revised, which was later backed by the Court of Appeal.

Bell and Anderson are urging Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to "let us move on with our lives and give us the offer already". Cabinet sits for the first time this year on Tuesday.

"Most of our money is tied to that section, so we've been stuck for the last three years. Now they've finally decided on the zoning, it's just a matter of finding out what the [Crown] offer is," Bell said.

The couple would lose more than $100,000 if the offer at 50 per cent of 2007 RV stood.

Bell was not confident the revised offer would be at 100 per cent.

"Considering how things have gone so far, I would be surprised if that's what he [Brownlee] offered."

The couple bought the section in early 2010, but building plans stalled when the first quake hit in September that year.

"We didn't buy it as an investment, but even if you buy it as an investment there's no reason you should lose a whole lot of money just because of, in my opinion, not such a great government decision," Bell said.

"We couldn't insure it even if we wanted to.

"It's not the earthquake that's stuffed us up, it's the zoning."

She questioned the decision to write off the section as no rocks had fallen during the quakes, but accepted the ruling had been made. Boulders above the land tied back in the 1990s with mesh barriers and cables "stood the test" during the quakes.

Although disappointed at having to walk away from their dream section with its "quirky topography and inspiring views across Christchurch", Bell was willing to accept a "fair" offer.

"For practical reasons, if they offer us 100 per cent, we would take that. There's been too much fighting and it's been too long."

Brownlee was unavailable for comment yesterday, but he said last month that the owners of vacant and uninsured Port Hills land would not receive Crown offers until the judicial process had been completed.

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- The Press

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