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Lyster’s Lane plot thickens

By Don Farmer
[email protected]
An obscure handwritten note on a land title has stopped the intended sale of the Greytown’s disputed Lyster’s lane in its tracks.
South Wairarapa District Council chief executive Paul Crimp has called a halt to the sale of the unformed, fenced-off grassy lane until the title situation has been cleared up.
Mr Crimp confirmed this in an e-mail to Featherston woman Lesley Wardle on Tuesday, soon after the Office of the Ombudsman had told her it would not enter into any dispute over the land ownership.
Mr Crimp said research had revealed that while the lane had never been transferred into council ownership “it may have been deemed a road”.
“My intention has always been to sort this land out and I am still going to do that.
“However I cannot subvert legal process so will halt any sale process until the wording on the title has been clarified,” he said.
Mr Crimp said when he had ascertained “what I hope are the facts”, he would write a report for councillors and seek guidance.
“This will probably not be until the new year given it is election year and the time it will take to identify the issues.”
The Ombudsman turned away from taking any part in determining the ownership of the lane, a grassy strip that runs from Cotter Street to West Street, after being asked to look into the matter by Mrs Wardle, a great, great granddaughter of settler Pierce Cotter, who originally owned the land.
She asked the Ombudsman to investigate South Wairarapa District Council rating a dead person which she claimed was a way of creating a reason to sell the land.
The office turned down the request to look into the lane’s ownership and the council’s administrative actions.
According to Ombudsman Leo Donnelly, Mrs Wardle had not set out “how this issue affects you in a personal capacity, or what purpose an investigation by this office would serve”.
In the reply to Mrs Wardle the Ombudsman said the issue of the land appeared to be a legal dispute “and you may wish to seek legal advice should you wish to progress the matter”.
Because it was considered an investigation was unnecessary no further action would be taken.
Mrs Wardle has spoken out over the fencing off of the grass lane saying she was not trying to claim ownership for herself but that it had been gifted to the people of Greytown in 1916 after the Cotter Estate had been wound up.
The lane had languished for years before finally being fenced off on the grounds young drivers raced cars on it, annoying people in the vicinity.
From time to time residents have tried to get the fencing removed and the land re-opened as a walkway.
Confusion over the ownership extended to the district council continuing to send out rate demands to people named Cotter.
By April this year $22,000 deemed as outstanding rates had built up.

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