Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Kiwi Domino's Pizza Owner Faces Battle with Local Council Over Land

New Zealand Domino's PizzaWill there be a Mexican stand-off in Water St if Domino's Pizza owner Jayesh Madhav refuses to sell his shop to the Northland Regional Council?

Or will it be an ant and elephant scenario - the elephant can't squash the ant clinging to its flank, but can certainly make life awkward for the ant ...

Mr Madhav's business prospects changed suddenly when the regional council and the Whangarei District Council announced they were "scoping" the idea of building a multi-storeyed, one-stop-shop local government centre.

The centre would be built beside the regional council headquarters in Water St, right behind the small shop from which Mr Madhav operates Domino's.

The only snag - with the two councils owning all the necessary land - is that Mr Madhav owns his building. The adjoining shop, leased by Sarah Graham for her business, Roasts 2 Go, is owned by the regional council.
From what was said when the announcement was made, the two little old buildings would be at best a nuisance and at worst significantly in the way. The two councils would prefer to incorporate the sites in the new project.

And the Domino's glitch did not go unnoticed at the press conference - when mayor and chair were asked about it, a member of the councils' line-up said, "if it came to it we could build around Domino's".

That worries Mr Madhav, because he accesses the back of his shop across regional council land.

Legally the council could hem him in, but the council's wheelchair ramp is over part of his property - and until now the two have co-existed peacefully on a "you scratch my back and I will scratch yours" basis.

An Otago university graduate in chemistry and bio-chemistry, Mr Madhav has been in business on the site since 1997, originally as Pizza Haven. He bought the property in 2005.

"I have no problem with the regional council per se," he says. "But where would I go? This is a really good site."

Regional council chair Mark Farnsworth said the two councils were simply "raising the concept".

"As leaders we're just saying, this has some merit. We have to simplify local government for people. It's not about creating a unitary authority, it's about making it easier for people to engage with local government."

He said Mr Madhav had a good business and that "neither council would ever be heavy-handed".

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