GROWING PROBLEMS: This overgrown block in Commercial Road, Alstonville, is causing plenty of local concern for residents, including neighbours (from left)  Vic Tarvey, children Nick, 5, and Nathan, 8, Essery and Nerida Crabbe.
GROWING PROBLEMS: This overgrown block in Commercial Road, Alstonville, is causing plenty of local concern for residents, including neighbours (from left) Vic Tarvey, children Nick, 5, and Nathan, 8, Essery and Nerida Crabbe. Doug Eaton

Vacant block is a growing haven for bush binges

AN OVERGROWN vacant block in Alstonville has become a haven for under-age drinkers and neighbours have had enough.

The site, in Commercial Road, is covered in grass at least 1.5m high, providing cover for teenagers looking for a place to drink.

It has also become a breeding ground for snakes and 'other vermin', according to nearby residents.

Nerida Crabbe, who lives nearby, said the block was 'disgusting' and 'an eyesore'.

“Some of the weeds are taller than me,” she said.

“We are also expecting that kids will go there to drink again this summer.

“I've got two young boys and this is not the kind of thing you want in your street.

“You can't even walk past the front of the property without getting covered in farmers' friends.”

Another nearby resident, who did not want to be named, said youths had been known to drag old couches to the land and light fires.

“The kids go there on Friday and Saturday nights to drink,” she said.

“There was even a rape there one year - a young girl was raped.”

Another long-term resident said the block had been a problem for at least 10 years.

“It's a fire hazard and it looks bloody terrible,” he said.

“Nothing ever gets done.

“It would be at least nine months since it was last mowed. Snakes and other vermin are in there.

“It's not fair for neighbours who have little kids.

“I wonder low long it would stay like that if it was next to the council chambers.”

Ballina Shire Council's regulatory services group manager, Rod Willis, said the council could issue orders for people to clean up their land.

“But it has to be either a hazard, that is a fire hazard or safety hazard, or it has to be harbouring vermin,” he said.

“However, snakes and other reptiles are often protected native animals - they are not classified as vermin.

“The council has limitations in that we can't look after someone's land and then charge them for it.

“It can be annoying for neighbours who have to put up with habitually untidy blocks near them, but council has a process to follow.”

Darren O'Neill is a resident who lives opposite the vacant block.

“It's a very big concern,” he said.

“It's been like that for as long as I've lived here, which is three years.

“It's just an ugly site. Snakes are the main problem.

“I keep my yard fairly clean and tidy - you don't want brown and black snakes in your yard, especially during summer when it's their breeding season.

“But snakes from that block are coming into other people's yards.

“And last year there was a lot of trouble in the street with kids going in there and drinking and partying.

“Something needs to be done about it.”



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