Squatters to be 'millionaires'

Thursday 29 April 2004

Conservationists say the Buller District Council will make millionaires out of squatters by granting long-term leases to bach owners along the scenic Punakaiki coast.

By The Landlord

After two years of argument, council staff are now preparing 35-year leases for about 28 baches on road reserve.

Staff met the bach owners and began measuring the proposed lease areas last Friday.

Council chief executive Gary Murphy said some owners wanted small areas but others may get a footprint equivalent to a minimum subdivision, including a 10m front yard and 2m for side and back yards as allowed under the Buller District Plan.

But Forest and Bird's West Coast spokesman, Peter Lusk, said that was legitimising years of squatting and then rewarding the bach owners with leases that could later be sold for upwards of $1 million because of their prime coastal location.

"The council shouldn't be in the business of creating millionaires from the public estate," he said.

Forest and Bird field officer Eugenie Sage said her organisation had suggested the council issue 10-year licences to occupy to limit the permanency of the baches, and was disappointed the proposal had been rejected.

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