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61 posts

Master Geek


#233476 17-Apr-2018 19:47
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Hey geeks, I am wondering if anyone has experience with dealing with councils on matters like this. I have obtained a building consent and got authorisation to connect to sewerage, water and stormwater services. On this picture below, the public sewer lateral is the part going from the underground main to the property boundary:

 

 

It is owned and maintained by the council according to their bylaw.

 

Now, the hitch is that my section has never had dwellings on it before, and, although there are service mains along the boundary, there are no laterals. They need to be built. When I approached the council about building them, they told me to hire a contractor and build them at my own cost. Their contractor (Downer) will only then inspect the completed work.

 

Digging through their policies I found a Policy on Development Contributions which stipulates that the council shall calculate what the owner's contribution is and bill him. When I pointed the council manager to that policy he basically denied that it applies and confirmed that I have to simply cover all the costs, even for the public laterals which I will not own.

 

Can anyone please share their experience with this stuff? Just aiming to do as much research as possible before, possibly, resorting to a legal action.


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9805 posts

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  #1998059 17-Apr-2018 19:53
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Which Council?




61 posts

Master Geek


  #1998065 17-Apr-2018 20:01
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Jase2985:

 

Which Council?

 

 

I will probably restrain from disclosing just yet. It should not make any difference, after all. Not Auckland, Welly or ChCh.


 
 
 
 


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  #1998079 17-Apr-2018 20:33
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If you're dealing with a local bylaw, then it makes a pretty fundamental difference which council - can't see what that particular bylaw says otherwise.


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  #1998081 17-Apr-2018 20:36
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Greendrake:

Jase2985:


Which Council?



I will probably restrain from disclosing just yet. It should not make any difference, after all. Not Auckland, Welly or ChCh.



It does make a difference. In some areas your private lateral extends as far as the connection to the public main. In Wellington they gifted formerly Council sections of lateral to householders.

Get quotes AFAIK drainlayers charge less than lawyers surprisingly.



61 posts

Master Geek


  #1998095 17-Apr-2018 20:45
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RunningMan:

 

If you're dealing with a local bylaw, then it makes a pretty fundamental difference which council

 

 

Makes sense! Here are relevant excerpts from the bylaw:

 

PRIVATE SEWER means that section of sewer between the customer’s premises and the point of discharge through which wastewater is conveyed from the premises. This section of sewer is owned and maintained by the customer (or group of customers).

 

PUBLIC SEWER means the public sewer and lateral connections that carry away wastewater from the point of discharge. The sewer is owned and maintained by Council.

 

The point of discharge from a customer shall be at the property boundary, with the boundaries of responsibility between the customer and the Council defined as in Figure 1.

 

Charges applicable and payable at the time of connection may include:
(a) Payment to the Council for the cost of the physical works required to provide the connection; and/or
(b) A development contribution charge determined in accordance with the Local Government Act 2002.

 

 

 

And this is from the council's Policy on Development Contributions:

 

Council shall calculate the development contribution payable at the time of granting the consent or authorisation and issue an assessment of development contributions payable.

 

 

 

Bung:

 

Get quotes AFAIK drainlayers charge less than lawyers surprisingly.

 

If the council legally has to build the laterals then they will have to pay my lawyers fees too.


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  #1998098 17-Apr-2018 20:52
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It seems pretty clear that you need to pay for the lateral but IANAL. I really do suggest you need to talk to one.

Charges applicable and payable at the time of connection may include:
(a) Payment to the Council for the cost of the physical works required to provide the connection; and/or
(b) A development contribution charge determined in accordance with the Local Government Act 2002.

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  #1998121 17-Apr-2018 21:14
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I would say you have to pay something to have the new lateral built. ie you want it you pay for it.

 

also is it that hard to name the council? i cant see how it impacts your situation by naming them. maybe someone has had a similar experience or can find something in there you haven't


 
 
 
 


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  #1998124 17-Apr-2018 21:30
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Greendrake:

 


It does make a difference. In some areas your private lateral extends as far as the connection to the public main. In Wellington they gifted formerly Council sections of lateral to householders.

Get quotes AFAIK drainlayers charge less than lawyers surprisingly.

 

Oooo... this explains why if there's any damage to the lateral it's then the homeowners responsibility to pay to repair. Horrendous sums too. Welly council reversed that decision and said they would take over repairs again, but afaik the policy is not yet in effect.

 

For the OP, i've witnessed 4 builds of brand new homes in my wellington city suburb, and the costs have been absolutely borne by the homeowner (in this case, new pipes replacing the old ones required as part of the consent process). Really big jobs too in terms of road diversion and hole digging. I've also known folks who've built in danneverke and palmy and they had to pay to connect the lateral pipes as well, but costs were modest as the main was easily accessible.

 

 





________

 

Antonios K

 

Click to see full size




61 posts

Master Geek


  #1998154 17-Apr-2018 21:58
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Jase2985:

 

I would say you have to pay something to have the new lateral built. ie you want it you pay for it.

 

 

Maybe. This is what capital contributions are for — property owner agrees to contribute in the construction. But it needs to be presented as such, not as blatant "get it constructed and pay for it, and it will belong to us".

 

Other thing to take into account is that the property has been diligently paying rates (which included charges for sewerage service — which has never been actually used), so it would be fair for the council to start actually providing this service unconditionally.

 

antoniosk:

 

i've witnessed 4 builds of brand new homes in my wellington city suburb, and the costs have been absolutely borne by the homeowner (in this case, new pipes replacing the old ones required as part of the consent process).

 

 

I just checked Welly's stance on that. There is a big difference: the whole lateral belongs to the owner — Welly's council owns only the main pipe.


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  #1998205 17-Apr-2018 22:49
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The bylaw is pretty clear to me but it seems that you have made up your mind and that no one here will change it.

Go and talk to a lawyer, they are competent to advise you as to what the local situation really is.

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  #1998236 18-Apr-2018 05:29
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Greendrake:

 

Maybe. This is what capital contributions are for — property owner agrees to contribute in the construction. But it needs to be presented as such, not as blatant "get it constructed and pay for it, and it will belong to us".

 

Other thing to take into account is that the property has been diligently paying rates (which included charges for sewerage service — which has never been actually used), so it would be fair for the council to start actually providing this service unconditionally.

 

 

Thats means nothing,

 

the council has already constructed the sewage system in your area so by you wanting a connection you are going to have to pay some or all of it. its a development contribution

 

but i agree with Handle9 you have made up your mind already and you refuse to answer some of the questions that could help your situation. so go talk to your laywer and sort it out.


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  #1998260 18-Apr-2018 08:11
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It's standard practice. Makes sense too: one big trench rather than two different contractors building two different trenches that meet at the boundary. Clause (a) from your bylaw extract above suggests that the council reserves the right to build the public lateral and charge you, but it doesn't seem like common practice to exercise that right. 

 

Development Contributions pay for the increase in network capacity that will be needed for the incremental demand that your property will create. E.g. upgrading the trunk sewer, increasing capacity at sewer treatment plant. Applies for a range of council services e.g. incremental demand for libraries, pools. It can seem a bit unfair on an individual property basis, especially when your one property won't lead to a trunk sewer upgrade on it's own,  but ultimately it's fairer than the alternative - existing ratepayers meet the cost of development.

 

 

 

 


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  #1998275 18-Apr-2018 08:29
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Marlborough District Council example;

 

In a serviced area the council provides the connections to boundary providing you apply and pay the connection fee.

 

Your drainlayer connection from there, usually covered by a building consent and is inspected by building control, as built drainage plan is submitted as part of code compliance certificate approval.

 

https://www.marlborough.govt.nz/services/utilities/connection-and-disconnection-fees

 

Commerial/oversized connections are at cost to install.

 

In new subdivisions the developer installs services to council code of practice standard, design & construction certified by professional engineer.  Developer pays fees and development contributions.  Developer may have to install services to connection beyond the site being developed or pay for downstream upgrades.

 

Services in roads and the roads/reserve areas transfer/vested into council ownership.  In some cases service mains pass through properties and are contained in an easement in gross and become council property.  





:)




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Master Geek


  #1998289 18-Apr-2018 09:08
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nickb800:

 

It's standard practice ... Clause (a) from your bylaw extract above suggests that the council reserves the right to build the public lateral and charge you, but it doesn't seem like common practice to exercise that right.

 

Thanks nickb800. To clarify, is it also standard practice for councils to own public laterals along with getting property developer construct them? We see that in Wellington for example, they do not own them.

 

The point I am trying to make is that I am effectively asked to build a piece of infrastructure that I will not own (even though that piece will serve my property only). The piece that is deemed to have been there already as my rates have been including charges for sewerage.

 

 


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  #1998301 18-Apr-2018 09:40
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Greendrake:

 

nickb800:

 

It's standard practice ... Clause (a) from your bylaw extract above suggests that the council reserves the right to build the public lateral and charge you, but it doesn't seem like common practice to exercise that right.

 

Thanks nickb800. To clarify, is it also standard practice for councils to own public laterals along with getting property developer construct them? We see that in Wellington for example, they do not own them.

 

The point I am trying to make is that I am effectively asked to build a piece of infrastructure that I will not own (even though that piece will serve my property only). The piece that is deemed to have been there already as my rates have been including charges for sewerage.

 

 

 

 

That does vary between councils, but yeah pretty much. If you take the Wellington City example (link below), they are proposing to 'steal' laterals back off homeowners, after gifting them a decade ago. 

 

https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/76776537/Wellington-City-Council-backs-plan-to-start-fixing-private-sewerage-pipes

 

If we move past the fact that they aren't going to pay for your lateral installation (as it is not covered by your development contribution), it is actually a great deal, as you get the benefit of the infrastructure without the maintenance liability. The lateral is exclusive to your property, so even though you won't own it, it cannot ever be used for anything but servicing your property. The asset will be outside of your ownership but you are guaranteed the use of it and for it to be maintained inclusive in your regular rates charges. 

 

Charging rates for services at the boundary regardless of connections also standard practice. It discourages people using septic tanks when there is a perfectly good sewer available (as septic tanks can lead to public health issues in dense urban areas). This circumvents the first mover problem when a community decides to install a sewer system. If you just spread the cost across the households that are connected, then the first mover (first household to connect to the sewer) then they would pay the entire operational cost of the system, the it would halve when the second person joined, and so on. No-one would want to be the first person to join, they would wait for each other to join, and you end in a stale mate. It's not very apparent when you're the 30,000th household to join the system though. 

 

That said, if you have been charged rates for sewer service then I would have thought that you shouldn't be paying development contributions for sewer, just the direct costs of connecting (lateral and perhaps inspection).


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