If you thought your neighbour was bad, spare a thought for the Nelsonians who had to endure the pong reeking from a brew of fish fertilizer that was plonked on their property line.
Or those who woke up at dawn to the sound of a rooster crowing in the central city after their neighbour mistook a male of the species for a female.
“There were no fresh eggs but plenty of noise,” says the council’s environmental inspection manager Brent Edwards.
These form just two of a litany of grumbles that stretches to nearly 2000 complaints laid with the Nelson City Council over the past year.
Most have been over excessive noise, with 1302 complaints, along with 486 complaints due to barking dogs. However, there are also “general nuisance” complaints, over hoarders, the “ban 1080” trailer, skateboarders, bonfires and mould in houses. And yes, also over Lewis Stanton’s long-running Trafalgar St protest.
On top of that have been 12 odour complaints over port-a-loos, sewage smells, Indian food, industrial chemicals and the fish fertilizer.
“Most people are good,” Brent says. “They do the right thing. But it does make you appreciate the variety of people out there.”
He says noise complaints tend to be seasonal and his team is bracing itself for the summer months. Most of those complaints are to do with parties that go long into the night. In that case he will send one of his officers out to see if the party is throwing out “unreasonable noise”.
“You ask ‘do I find it excessive? Would I tolerate it? You have to weigh up what would be acceptable at 8pm on Saturday compared to 2am on a Monday.”\
However, Brent says it is sometimes the lower volumes that lead neighbours to pick up the phone. These include things like droning bass lines or heat pumps.
“Even spa pools.”
If his officers deem the noise to be excessive then they issue a warning for the person to alleviate the noise for 72 hours. If they do not comply or turn the noise back up then the council officer can return with police and confiscate the offending item.
“Technically we could confiscate a spa pool but we never have.”
Brent says the best advice he has so people can hang onto their possessions is to be a good neighbour.
“Be considerate and if you are having a party one off best thing you can do is to talk to neighbours beforehand.”
Brent says his team is often stuck in the middle of neighbours and things have turned violent before. But it is all in service of keeping the peace.
And if everything turns south and things are confiscated then the offending item can be picked up from the council for a sum of $150.
“But sometimes people can’t be bothered.”