Supreme court orders independent overseer for fence feud
A THREE-YEAR dispute between Yeppoon neighbours has led to a Queensland judge ordering the president of an organisation to find another professional to oversee works.
Poinciana Ave resident Christine Roberts has been in dispute before the courts with her neighbours Michael and Ariana Greinke since about March 2015 over a fence.
This month, Supreme Court Justice Martin Daubney, president of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, handed down a judgment over an appeal against a Yeppoon magistrate's decision about the fence last year.
The reason for the appeal was to dispute the type of fence to be erected between the arguing neighbours' properties.
Justice Daubney ordered the president of the Queensland Division of Engineers Australia to nominate an independent civil engineer to oversee the construction of a 1.8-metre high bluestone Colorbond fence 30.27 metres long.
Why? He said this was due to the history of bitterness between the parties.
Justice Daubney's decision outlined the history of the dispute which started when Ms Roberts lodged an application about building the fence.
It has never been argued about the need for the fence, just what sort.
In late-2016, Ms Roberts started construction which led to the Greinkes obtaining an interim order to stop the fence construction.
One of the issues then was about post holes being dug.
The parties argued their cases before a magistrate in Yeppoon Court in January 2017, who ruled in favour of the Greinkes who preferred a steel mesh fence be built for $5170 as per a quote provided to the court.
Ms Roberts filed an appeal application over that decision in April.
Both parties provided written submissions about the appeal which included information not relevant to "the interpretation and application of the Act in the circumstances of this case”.
"Both parties revealed selective pieces of information which had been conveyed in the course of a mediation between them,” Justice Daubney wrote.
"Given the confidential nature of mediation, it was completely inappropriate for both parties to disclose the matters they did.”
Essentially, both parties agreed the wire mesh fence ordered by the magistrate did not seem to meet the "sufficient dividing fence” term laid out in the Act.
Ms Roberts argued the need for a more solid fence such as a panel fence for safety and security concerns, along with providing a visual barrier between the properties.
The Greinkes claimed wire mesh fences were the most common fences in the area and a panel fence would "decrease the open leafy feel of the area” and that it would be "out of place with some of the modern, tasteful powder-coated aluminium and steel flow-through fences in the neighbourhood”. However, photographs provided to Justice Daubney suggested there was no uniformity in style of fences in the neighbourhood.
Other concerns were raised but Justice Daubney felt all "these purported 'concerns' verge on the hyperbolic, and are symptomatic of the breakdown in relations” between the neighbours.
He did rule, if the independent civil engineer was unable to provide the necessary certification dealing with wind rating and cyclone proof qualities for the panel fencing, the wire mesh fence would need to be constructed instead.
Ms Roberts is to pay the additional costs for the panel fence but both parties are to share the costs of the wire mesh fence quote.