(from change.org — authors unclear)


It’s rather long, but please read and share. It is THE FACTS not the alternative facts.

You may have seen the coverage in Saturday’s Dominion Post and on Stuff confirming KCDC is going to extensively cut the Osbornes hedge in Te Moana Road, Waikanae Beach — as they originally planned. This after having agreed that there was an alternative that meant the hedge would NOT need to be cut. The story says that the Osbornes had ‘rejected’ the compromise offer that would have saved the hedge. That is NOT THE CASE. The truth is KCDC WITHDREW the offer. Here is why.

KCDC gave the Osbornes 5 days to agree to put up a bond of $82,000 to move the curb in front of the hedge. They provided no explanation for the cost. After repeated requests to see the plan and the budget and to meet with KCDC to discuss the proposal, 2 days before they were being forced to sign the bond the Osbornes received a DRAFT plan and a BALLPARK ESTIMATE of costs which showed that the Osbornes were being made to pay for 180 METRES OF NEW CURBING. Their hedge is less than 50 metres long. The Mayor, the CEO, the Head of Infrastructure Services, Sean Mallon, and all of our elected councillors, refused to meet with the Osbornes.

A review of the plan by the Osbornes traffic engineering expert shows that the very same outcome could be achieved for probably less than $20,000. So, it seems KCDC are prepared to spend 4 times as much on a GOLD PLATED solution. In this instance, it would have been the Osborne’s money — but is this the way they always treat ratepayers money?

HERE IS THE CHAIN OF EVENTS

· On 12 January 2017 the Osbornes received a letter saying their hedge had to be cut back by 1.5 metres by 22 February, as it caused a safety hazard because the sight lines for vehicles exiting Fairway Oaks Drive and No 82 Te Moana Rd were inadequate and that pedestrians were unable to pass safely.

· A Traffic Engineering safety report commissioned by KCDC used a point 7 Metres back from the edge of the road to measure the sight lines.

· After a meeting on site the Mayor and Mr Mallon agreed the Osbornes could have an expert review that report. They later denied they had made that agreement.

· KCDC at their own behest deferred the date for trimming the hedge to 1 April.

· The review was done and the expert, who has a PhD in the subject, stated that the measurement should be taken from 3 Metres, not 7 metres — 3 metres being the NZTA and AUSTRoads standard for New Zealand roads.

· Using this measure, the Fairway Oaks Drive exit sight lines meet the requirement 100% and with a small amount of trimming the 82 Te Moana driveway also complies.

· The Osbornes carried out the trimming at number 82 immediately.

· The Osbornes contacted the neighbour to ask if they were happy with this trimming and were told KCDC had told them not to speak to the Osbornes.

· At the same time the Mayor used his weekly newspaper column to defame the Osbornes by castigating them for being un-neighbourly and for acting in self-interest by caring about their own safety while not caring for the safety of others.

· The Osbornes asked to present the review of the Safety Report in person so the issues could be discussed. This request, sent to Mr Mallon, the Mayor and the CEO, was repeatedly turned down.

· On 21 April, at 7:30 am the Osbornes discovered the hedge surrounded by road cones with an arborist about to arrive to cut the hedge. There was no notification from KCDC.

· They blockaded the hedge with cars, preventing the hedge being cut. Mr Mallon arrived at the Osbornes and vehemently argued that he would not meet to discuss the review. As a result of a stand-up shouting match on the side of the road and in front of the press, Mr Mallon finally agreed that he would meet the Osbornes and view the report.

· The Osbornes met with Mr Mallon and the CEO on May 2. At this meeting they AGREED THERE MAY BE OPTIONS other than cutting the hedge that would meet all of their safety requirements. They said they would come back to the Osbornes within 1 week.

· During that meeting the Osbornes offered to meet any reasonable costs of what alternative works might be required through their own means, some community fundraising, and perhaps with the goodwill of some KCDC approved local contractors.

· 3 weeks later, on 24 May, the Osbornes received a proposal from KCDC for moving the curb 2 metres out from the hedge and repainting linework on the road. KCDC required an $82,000 bank bond from the Osbornes.

· This proposal, it was later discovered, turned out to be the exact same DRAFT plan and DRAFT cost that was prepared and presented to councillors in February. No additional work had been done on refining the plan or accurately assessing the cost.

· The e-mail from Mr Mallon ended with this sentence: “If it was going to take some time to finalise the agreement then as a minimum the first trimming of the hedge would need to be carried out within the next 2-3 weeks.” The Osbornes took this to mean it may take 2 – 3 weeks to finalise the contract, a reasonable assumption.

· Immediate inquiries were made with a KCDC-approved road curbing company who told us their price for laying curbing was $100 per metre.

· The Osbornes hedge is 50 metres long, meaning $5,000 worth of curbing. The Osbornes were interested to know what the remaining $77,000 covered.

· On 25 May, Raechel emailed Mr Mallon asking for the documentation supporting this option.

· On 26 May, Mr Mallon replied, ending with this sentence: “I now require formal confirmation from you with regard to the financial commitment component by Wednesday 31st May” giving the Osbornes 5 days to agree to giving KCDC legal access to $82,000 of their money which KCDC would have rights to draw down — with no explanation of the plans or the costs.

· Raechel requested to see the $82,000 estimate and the plan. This was FINALLY received on 29 May. It showed that the $82,000 was a rough estimate with rounded ballpark figures and was not a quote for the work. No quotes had been sought by KCDC.

· The plan showed that the Osbornes were being asked to pay for 180 Metres of Curbing!

· Over the next 3 days, multiple email requests were sent to Mr Mallon, the Mayor, the CEO and all KCDC councillors, asking for a meeting to discuss the plan and what we saw as an unjustly excessive plan – a gold plated solution.

· All parties refused to meet.

· The Osbornes had their Traffic Engineering expert review the plan and he reported that THE SAFETY OBJECTIVES REQUIRED TO BE MET BY KCDC AND THEIR TRAFFIC ENGINEERS COULD BE 100% ACHIEVED WITH AN EXPENDITURE WE ESTIMATE TO BE LESS THAN $20,000. The same outcome at a quarter of the price.

· On 1 June, the acting KCDC CEO, Max Pederson emailed the Osbornes stating that as “council has not received confirmation from you that you agree to cover all further costs” and to “take out a bond in the name of the Council for the amount of $82,000” the “offer is withdrawn” and that the Council will be cutting the hedge “at the next available opportunity”.

· Interviewed by the Dominion Post on 2 June for their story on this latest action by KCDC, Mayor Gurunathan stated, “They [the Osbornes] are blackmailing the Council to stop us from doing our job.”

If you agree that this is unjust, please e-mail your councillors and the Mayor.

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