Featherston landlord's 25-year grudge
Imagine holding a grudge for 25 years. It's not a healthy thing to do, but wealthy Wairarapa landowner John Broeren is doing exactly that.
Mr Broeren has an issue with the local council and development fees and he is no mood to back down. The sad thing is it coming at the expense of town's economic survival.
Featherston is known as the gateway to the Wairarapa. It has its charms, but it also has its eyesores – namely three prominent boarded-up and vandalised buildings on the main street. They're so infamous they even have a nickname – Broeren's ruins.
Local business owner and councillor Colin Olds believe Mr Broeren's grudge is holding the town and region back economically.
"There was a public meeting in Featherston a couple of weeks ago and the community have had enough, but like the council, they are powerless," says Mr Olds.
The council has tried to reason with Mr Broeren, but he doesn't seem to want to fix them up or even sell them.
So what was the problem?
Twenty-five years ago, Mr Broeren protested a $10,000 bond for developing property in Featherson.
He says he had builders ready to go but the council rules were the roadblock.
He's taken it so personally he even recently called out mayor Adrienne Staples for trespass on one of his properties.
The sad part of this disagreement is that other business owners believe it is hurting Featherston's ability to attract tourists and business.
The council is so fed up it has been considering invoking a bylaw that sees the properties restored at the owner's expense without consent.
"The council has looked at that; however it is something that hasn't been tested in court yet. There are quite substantial risks. "
But even after 25 years, the council is still hoping it won't come to that.
It wants to work things out with Mr Broeren and says Featherston's future could be bright if they can put aside their differences.