RESIDENTS have found themselves between a rock and a hard place in Sanctuary Point, as Shoalhaven City Council tiptoes around the clean-up of a neighbouring property.
The Frederick Street resident who collects many items, lawnmowers in particular, has been given the opportunity by council to make a move on cleaning up the front yard of the house for the relief of neighbours and visitors to the area.
Shoalhaven City Council Environment Health Unit manager Shane Pickering said council had undergone a lengthy process to allow the owners of the property in question to take action themselves but is now looking at carrying out their order for property cleanliness.
“Council appreciates the community’s patience with the process but it can be difficult,” Mr Pickering said.
“This issue has been a little sensitive and we are currently determining the situation, having gone through all legal processes.
“This property was brought to our attention some time ago but the delay is basically due to council trying to avoid going to court and we’ve been trying to work with the owner.”
Mr Pickering said hoarding issues did not come up often and council took every precaution to help frustrated residents while trying to help the offenders with their problems.
“Squalor issues can be associated with behavioural problems,” he said.
“People probably don’t realise this when they read it in the news, but those councils like the ones in Wollongong and Sydney which have been forced to go to court and take action on particular properties have gone through the same process as we are here.
“The reason we try to get the property owners to do the clean-up themselves is because these collecting habits are often behavioural problems – we can go in and clean up the mess but that doesn’t necessarily mean you get rid of the problem and it would most likely recur.”
One particular Sanctuary Point resident, Les Boucher has made a lot of noise on the issue and said the process and length of time it has taken for something to happen at council is frustrating.
“I know a couple of places that hoard and one in particular, I’ve been working with council over a 12-month period to do something about,” Mr Boucher said.
“I was approached by residents in the area who were frustrated and still are, that they were not getting anywhere with council about the issue in Sanctuary Point, but this occurrence is not isolated to that area.
“In Culburra there is the same sort of problem.”
Mr Boucher said he had no doubt neighbourhoods with residing hoarders were devalued.
“It’s also a fire hazard and there has to be vermin in there, which means there will also be snakes,” he said.
“It seems to be council drags its feet in everything it does.
“They said they were at the property on Tuesday but we aren’t getting anywhere.
“In fairness to council, it is trying but not hard enough.”