Unravelling rules for berms
Ever wondered about those tiny fences or rocks placed along the edge of a berm, stopping vehicles from parking on the grass strips? Have you pondered putting one outside your place but not sure how Palmerston North City Council would react? “If we were to receive a complaint about someone installing a barrier in the berm, we’d need to investigate if it was a hazard or not,” chief infrastructure officer Sarah Sinclair says. “If deemed to be a hazard we would contact the landowner and ask them to remove it. “If they don’t within a specified time council are able to remove it and may consider sending an invoice to the property.” The bigger question then is can you park on a grass berm? Acting chief customer officer Kerry-Lee Probert says the city council’s Traffic and Parking Bylaw 2018 states you can’t park on a grass berm. “However, government legislation says there needs to be a sign in place stating this for us to be able to enforce this. “Our city’s berms don’t have ‘no parking’ signs.” Some grassed areas next to a road constitute part of the road and can be parked on. These areas are different to other berms because there is a kerb or channel, the piece at the side of a road where water collects to drain, between the footpath and the grassed area. An example of this is Rainforth St, Roslyn. “If someone complains to us about someone parking on a berm, we usually go out to investigate within two hours of being notified and if necessary we’ll either talk with the driver/owner of the car, or issue a warning for parking on the berm,” Probert says. “There would be no penalty where there is no sign in place. “People can let us know of an issue by using our Snap Send Solve app, through our website, or by giving our contact centre a call.” She says some people choose to put plants in their berm but there are safety requirements that need to be considered. “These include never using a shovel or digging deeply — you must only scrape the surface as you could hit some of your utility services. You also need to ensure people can see when exiting driveways, ensure it’s safe for pedestrians and there is space for wheelie bins.” The council’s website says the citywide Vegetation Framework allows it to consider berm gardens on a case-by-case basis. “Get in touch with us to look at whether your berm is suitable for a garden and we’ll send you a berm garden agreement.” The general responsibility for mowing grass berms rests with the owners or occupiers of the adjacent property. The council mows berms next to council properties and where a berm is so big it considers it unreasonable for the residents to mow. If residents and landowners are unable or unwilling to mow a grass berm, council contractors will maintain it when required, to alleviate fire risk, the website says.