AN UGLY neighbourhood dispute that saw a retired Yeppoon couple at war, for almost decades, with the tree-loving woman next door has finally been settled in a Brisbane court.
Having put up with an obstructed view since the late 1990s and waking to the thud of falling palm fronds and screeching fruit bats, Thomas and June Young will sleep better knowing at least 20 of the offending trees are in for the chop following a decision handed down in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The tribunal heard that noise and interrupted water supply from the tree roots were among the many factors impacting the couple's quality of life since Stephanie Salmon moved onto the Barlows Hill property in 1998, planting dozens of palm trees - 35 of which hung over the shared fence.
Tensions between the neighbours peaked in 2015 when the heavy foliage provided perfect fuel for Cyclone Marcia, which sent four large palm trees crashing into the Youngs' home and debris flying across their patio.
The Youngs claimed their enjoyment of their land was gone and previous attempts to sell had failed because buyers were put off by the obtrusive trees.
But while the tribunal ultimately found in favour of the Youngs, questionable behaviour from both sides of the fence was noted.
In the late '90s, lawyers for the Salmon family complained to the Youngs about them trespassing, harassing their tradespeople and "generally being a nuisance".
Mrs Salmon provided evidence of complaints made to police and the Livingstone Shire Council alleging unlawful caravan camping on her land and pet neglect - all of which were allegedly made by the Youngs and were found to be without substance.
She rejected the argument the Youngs had sea views until she moved in, alleging that Mr Young had slashed, ring-barked and poisoned trees in her yard to improve his view. She also claimed she had been advised by an engineer that removal of her palm trees would "magnify damage" being caused by roof and surface water run-off from the Youngs' property.
QCAT member Paul Favell said he was not satisfied the Youngs had a sea view when they moved onto their property and accepted plants and trees were poisoned to create a better view. He did however agree with the report of a tree assessor that recommended the removal of several palms and other maintenance on Mrs Salmon's property.
Mrs Salmon offered to remove 10 cocoa palms from the property.
The tribunal ordered her to remove a further 10 mature palms.
She will also have to undertake six-monthly clearing of the shared boundaries including the removal all overhanging fronds and fruiting material from within a metre of the fence.
- ARM NEWSDESK
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