By Don Farmer
Nearly 40ha of flat farm land on Lees Pakaraka Road is to be bought by Masterton District Council for $1.4 million to mothball in case it is needed in future to add to the Homebush Sewage Treatment Scheme.
The land, belonging to sitting councillor David Holmes, was sold to the council through a third party without Mr Holmes knowing who the intended purchaser was.
It will be leased out for farming until such time as it may be needed.
The decision to buy the land was made at a special council meeting held yesterday without Mr Holmes being in attendance as he excused himself declaring a pecuniary interest.
It is a block located on the western side of Lees Pakaraka Road, on the opposite side of the Ruamahanga River from the existing treatment plant.
Mr Holmes has sold the remainder of his farm, being the hill country portion, to other interests.
The land soon to be owned by the council, now that councillors have given permission to chief executive Pim Borren to “proceed with and complete the purchase”, is partly planted.
The council will also take ownership under the agreed purchase price of a woolshed valued at $40,000, a bull shed valued at $12,000, a $15,000 implement shed, a killing house, seven dog kennels and a pump shed.
At yesterday’s meeting Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson revealed three tenders had been received by the vendor with the council tender being the highest.
Describing the purchase as an investment, Mrs Patterson said it would future-proof the council should the need arise for more land to irrigate its wastewater on.
It is known the land could compensate for some land already in council ownership at Homebush that can’t be used because it is too wet to take up wastewater from Pond 3.
The decision to buy was not opposed by any councillors with most agreeing it was an investment opportunity that, if not taken up, future councils could regret.
Councillor Simon O’Donoghue said it was a matter of transferring money already invested into land purchase and “land is not a gamble, it’s an investment”.
Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont said he believed the council “couldn’t go wrong” buying the land.
“It’s a good investment.
“We would own land on both sides of the river and in future it could be sold if we don’t use it,” he said.
Mrs Patterson said it should be known that no consent was now in place for irrigating the land “with anything”, but that was something that could not be pre-empted before buying the block.
MDC’s $1.4m land deal at Homebush
By Don Farmer