BREAKING GROUND: Diggers continue to excavate the site that Mr van der Aa has owned for over a decade. Photo Troy Baker D9869-07

DOG turds and public misconception has prompted a Whakatane businessman to speak out about the development of a piece of land he has owned for over a decade.

Martin van der Aa has bought and developed various blocks of land over the years and now has plans to build on a large section he owns at the bottom of Appenzell Drive, backing on to the Waiewe Reserve.

Earthworks began a week ago to prepare the site for construction, surprising many residents who had assumed it was reserve land and theirs to enjoy.

Mr van der Aa can understand their confusion.

“It has for the longest time been empty and looks like it’s an extension of the reserve, so people have just assumed that it is,” he said. “They have used that land to access the reserve, naturally walking through that property …but it is my property.”

The indignance of people has been difficult for him and builders Platinum Homes to stomach – especially when it comes in the form of dog faeces.

When he and the Platinum Homes contractors arrived on Monday, they were confronted with an unexpected welcome on the top of their site box.

“We have a site box on the job that holds all of the plans and information for the job and this morning we arrived there and there were two nice big dog turds sitting on-top of it … they think we’ve got it wrong and we’re building in the wrong place.”

Platinum Homes has also received emails from grumpy locals, upset that they are unable to walk through the private property, convinced the site is not above board.
“[They’ve] had emails saying they’re building in the wrong place.

“The comments are simply, you’re in the wrong place get out of here,” Mr van der Aa said.

A number of people have stopped, wondering why the area is fenced off.

“People have been saying things like, ‘what do you think you’re doing in our reserve?’”

Mr van der Aa previously had plans to subdivide the land and lodge a resource consent application for a three-lot subdivision that would have seen Whakatane District Council receive a “reserve contribution” of 5580 square metres of land.

This would have included an access strip as well as a large section bordering the reserve.

However, Mr van der Aa withdrew the application to subdivide last year after the process proved too difficult.

DUMPED: Local property developer Martin van der Aa found two large dog poos on the site box situated on what locals believe is reserve land. Photo supplied

A council spokesperson said the 2017 application for the subdivision included the reserve area that would be vested as a local purpose drainage reserve.

The council decided against this because access to the drainage reserve would have been too difficult to achieve due to an open drain on the eastern side of the proposed subdivision.

Health and safety guidelines state a construction site needs to be fenced off for the safety of the public, and Mr van der Aa said he believed doing so had been taken negatively by the people.

“That’s what we have to do and that’s upset some people … from my perspective, I thought

I’d step back and let nature take its course and let people get used to it in some time but we need to let the community know.

“I’ve been gracious enough to allow the public to use the land for years without any hinderance; they should be grateful they had the opportunity rather than upset they can’t do it now.”

hazel.osborne@thebeacon.co.nz