Berm Mowing and Roadside Planting
Prior to 1 July 2009 we mowed all urban road berms, except those mown by land owners. The degree of land owner mowing varied between different communities and this was inconsistent and inequitable as the district was funding an activity that allowed greater benefit to some individual parties and local communities or, in some cases, paying for a job to be done twice.
We resolved, after consultation and during the 2009 Ten Year Plan deliberations that the mowing of residential berms should be left to the adjoining property owner.
The berm mowing policy is consistent with the majority of other New Zealand local authorities.
It is the property owner/resident's responsibility in urban areas to mow the road berm adjacent to their property. An urban area is defined as within a 70kmh speed zone.
We will mow:
- Grassed traffic islands and medians.
- Berms adjacent to parks and reserves and other Council buildings (funded from the reserve budget).
- Berms adjacent to Council utility plants e.g. waste water treatment plants (funded from that particular activity budget).
- Berms at the entrances to Council walkways.
- Berms in front of a private property where the berm area is larger than 400 square meters per lot.
- Berms on roads which are considered to be tourist routes (unless mown by adjacent properties).
- Berms that are steep (unable to be mown by a hand mower) or adjacent to bush/farm land on the urban/rural boundary will be mown a maximum of 4 to 5 times a year by a rural reach or flail type mower. These are referred to as semi-urban areas.
If property owner/occupier believes their berm is over the 400 square meters per lot threshold they can log a request for service for the berm to be mown by Council.
The request to have a berm mown outside a private property will be assessed and the area of berm outside the property will be measured. Should staff determine the berm area to exceed the 400 square meters per lot threshold, we will mow the berm outside the property.
Where the berm remains unmown outside a property, we will mow the berm one to four times a year to keep the grass from becoming a fire hazard.
If you’re thinking about planting shrubs or trees on the berm outside your property, please contact the Council's Roading team first so we can check if this is an appropriate location.
Many berms are actually part of the Council road reserve and often there are water pipes or other infrastructure not far underground, or overhead wires that aren’t taken into account by planters.
Tree roots can wrap around pipes, shift them and break them. This could potentially disrupt water services to the community, requiring an expensive fix. Often, the eventual size of the plantings isn’t generally well judged, and people move on, leaving the problems and cost of tree removal or repairs to infrastructure to future ratepayers.
The roading team will evaluate each proposal on a case-by-case basis, and if it is acceptable the applicant will be expected to enter into a Licence to Occupy agreement with Council that will set out the agreed planting and maintenance to be undertaken.
It should be noted that the berm forms part of the road reserve and our Council has a duty to protect all road users so any planting that is considered to be unsafe, or which will require roads or footpaths to be blocked to maintain it, will be refused.
As the planting would be within the road reserve any applicant should note that members of the public have a right to pass over the area, and that a Licence to Occupy grants no rights of exclusive use. Should damage occur to any planting Council will take no responsibility or take action to prevent or restrict access to the area.
Items such as rock landscaping or fencing will not be accepted in any proposal.
Noxious or invasive plants will not be accepted. Details of current species that are not acceptable can be found at the Waikato Regional Council website.
Any planting undertaken without Council approval will be considered to be a breach of s357 of the Local Government Act 1974 and Council will arrange for its removal and the recharge of all costs incurred in doing so.