270 Ports Hills homes rezoned

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 17:05 05/12/2013
Daniel Tobin

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announces the results of the latest Port Hills zoning review.

Victoria Murdoch
Dean Kozanic
SHOCKED: Victoria Murdoch's dream home is just a memory.
George Johnson
Dean Kozanic
ALWAYS OPTIMISTIC: Lyttelton homeowner George Johnson.
where the owners had settled with the Crown
Al Nisbet
CHANGING COLOURS: A total of 270 Port Hills homes have had their zoning changed.

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Victoria Murdoch's dream home is just a memory after it became one of 270 Port Hills homes to have their zoning changed.

Murdoch and her partner bought the Sumner home a month before the September 2010 earthquake.

The house was damaged in the February 2011 quake and issued with a section 124 notice, but zoned green.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the review of all zoned properties in the Port Hills had resulted in 237 going from green zone to red zone, and 33 going from red to green.


Have you been rezoned? Did you expect it? Email newsflow@press.co.nz


The Crown would offer to buy any properties zoned red.

Under the latest review, nine Port Hills properties originally zoned red and where the owners had settled with the Crown, have been re-zoned green.

Brownlee said these former owners would be given the option of buying back their homes from the Crown.

Another nine properties re-zoned green could continue with the Crown's purchase offer if they chose, despite their properties changing to be zoned green.

Yesterday Murdoch found out that all the work and stress put into getting her repair costs paid out had been for nothing. Murdoch's home was now red zoned.

''We loved this house. We won't be able to replace it.''

It was a surprise to learn of its fate - she knew there was a review but she did not expect the outcome they got.

''I don't know what I feel. I'm a bit shocked.''

The Earthquake Commission were on the cusp of scoping the property - it said it was under cap but her insurance company said repairs would cost abut $300,000.

At least now she did not have to worry about those arguments, she said.

Her partner, however, was ''livid''. He wanted to know why these decisions weren't made years ago.

Brownlee said zoning in the Port Hills was based on the risk to life from rocks or cliff collapse.

However, many property owners had not sought a review and may be surprised by today's announcement.

Since last night the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) had been trying to call all property owners who asked for a change or whose zoning had been changed to tell them of the outcome and offer face-to-face meetings.

Brownlee said he was "very conscious" of the long and frustrating wait for some Port Hills property owners but some of the delay had been outside the Government's control.

"We had to wait for clarification from the courts about our zoning process, and we needed to make absolutely sure the final zoning decisions are correct."

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The zoning review was done by a panel led by Dr Keith Turner, who also led the zoning review for flat land in Christchurch.

CERA has produced specific information for the 44 different areas in the Port Hills that have zoning implications to make it easier for property owners to understand their own situation.

Each of the 44 areas and their zoning implications are detailed at www.cera.govt.nz/port-hills with videos to explain the outcome in each of these areas.

This week the Court of Appeal released its decision on the legal challenge by the Quake Outcasts group. It found that CERA's zoning process was lawful, but the Crown had to review any offers made to owners of uninsured properties and vacant land.

A process for undertaking this review was now being developed.

RELIEVED AT BEING RE-ZONED GREEN

Bob Gordon is relieved authorities now accept what he has know for nearly three years - that rocks pose no risk to his property.

More than a year after the review of the Port Hills zoning was first promised, the Lyttelton homeowner was last night told his red zoning had been overturned.

It is understood 96 properties had their zoning chnged by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera).

''I've got a lot of mixed emotions about it, but the main one is relief that I can just get on with it now. It's just taken far too long,'' he said.

Cera's delays were ''totally unacceptable''.

His and neighbour George Johnson's homes were the only occupied properties in Gilmour Tce zoned red in June last year because of rockfall risk.

Neighbours were issued section 124 notices - or red-stickered barring entry on safety grounds - after the February 2011 earthquake but Johnson and Gordon were not.

The pair were stunned when their properties were later written off and the others zoned green. No rocks fell into either the section during the February quake or significant aftershocks in June and December 2011.

Vegetation on the slope has provided protection but was not considered in the zoning process.

The Press reported in December last year that a Cera report found the risk to the two properties, which have a combined rateable value of $1 million, could be mitigated for $100,000.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee decided against rockfall protection measures across the Port Hills, but the city councillors later voted to consider individual options.

Gordon said he was always optimistic his property would go green after the review.

''It's a complete no-brainer. Nothing's come out of the hill and I've spoken to a geotech engineer about it and he said it's fine. It's not a gut feel - I've spoken to professionals about it.''

Johnson, who is living in Perth, returns to Christchurch on Boxing Day.

''I have been talking to him by phone and he was getting quite frustrated . . . He was going to hate losing [his property],'' Gordon said.

Gordon had already decided to stay in his home, regardless of zoning.

''There's no way that for the 2007 rateable valuation I can buy anything even similar to it,'' he said.

- The Press

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