Customers of Silverdale Landscape Services will no longer be getting their firewood from the family business after Auckland Council enforced an abatement notice.
The business, which includes landscaping and grave digging, operates from the owners’ home in Stillwater. Processing and selling firewood was added 10 years ago. It employs seven staff including co-owners Ruth Pine and husband Grant Amos.
Multiple complaints from neighbours about noise, as well as truck movements to and from the site, resulted in Council issuing an abatement notice last November. These notices are issued for breaches of the Resource Management Act and, in this case, require the business to make changes, move, or close down. There are restrictions on operations of this type and size in Stillwater’s Rural – Countryside Living zone.
The business was given until the end of February to comply.
Last month, Silverdale Landscape Services shut down its firewood operation and applied for retrospective resource consent to allow landscaping and grave digging services to continue to be based at the site. Council rejected this application.
Neighbours, who do not wish to be named, say that it’s a relief to have a measure of peace and quiet restored. They say the business generated “constant noise swirling around the valley,” as well as a lot of disruption with daily truck movements.
Although a key issue for complainants was noise generated by chainsawing, unloading logs and other activities, Council has taken no decibel readings, saying that the problem is simply that a landscaping yard is not a permitted activity in this zone.
While it is clear the firewood has to go, the couple still hopes to be able to run the rest of their business from home.
Ruth says the issues are the number of staff, and how many commercial vehicles operate from the site.
A Council spokesperson says the business has partially complied with the abatement notice by ceasing the processing of wood, and that staff continue to work with them to ensure full compliance.
“Their retrospective application was turned down for the rest of the landscape services because they failed to provide enough information,” the spokesperson says. “The company can object or put in a new application that provides the full information.”
While they prepare a new application, the family continues to run landscaping and grave digging services.
A huge pile of logs lies uncut on the property.
“We have a large amount of logs that we can’t process and have to remove but it’s hard to do that when you can’t chainsaw them,” Ruth says. “Council told us we’ll get a fine if anyone complains about noise and we’re too scared to do anything in case we breach the abatement notice, so we haven’t even cut firewood for our own use.”
November 4 and December 2, 2020