A dispute between neighbors over the size of a hedge on a waterfront property has prompted a court to step in to settle the long-running battle after negotiations failed.
Catherine L’Estrange and Louise-Anne Louw petitioned the New South Wales Land and Environment Court to order their neighbors Allison and Jason Cunial to trim and keep their hedge to a reasonable height.
Ms L’Estrange and Ms Louw, who live in Ocean Shores, north of Byron Bay on the north coast of New South Wales, said that since they bought the property, up the hill from the Cunials’, in 2021, your view of the ocean had been obstructed.
The two women won the dispute, and their neighbors have now been ordered to regularly prune the row of 13 lilies that form a screen along the boundary.
Responding to the request, the Cunials said they trimmed their hedge and that it did not severely obstruct their neighbors’ view.
A dispute between neighbors over the size of a hedge on a waterfront property has prompted a court to step in to settle the long-running battle after negotiations failed. Stock Image
The hedge is about 3.5 to 3.8 meters high, but it has been taller.
“This view was the primary view available of the applicant’s home when it was purchased,” David Galwey, acting commissioner of the Land and Environment Tribunal, said in his decision.
“Their living rooms, where they and their guests will probably spend most of their time, have large glass doors and windows that face east.
“When I consider these factors together, the value of the view, the degree to which it is obstructed, and the high-use areas from which it was available, I find that the trees in the hedge severely obstruct applicants’ view. .’
Before taking the matter to court, the neighbors had been in negotiations for about two years in an attempt to come to an agreement on the height and maintenance of the trees.
“A matter that could reasonably have been resolved by a discussion between neighbors about the fence has progressed to court proceedings,” Galwey said.
The Cunials told the court they were willing to keep the hedge, but their neighbors said that was unlikely given their previous resistance to trimming and keeping the hedge at a reasonable height.
The Cunials also said the hedge was valuable for privacy, shade and cooling, and provided a screen to limit views of their home from their neighbors’ property.
The court heard that the Cunials trimmed the hedge, but only after receiving legal letters or the request to start legal proceedings.
“It seems to me that the parties could have reached a reasonable agreement that would provide for both the privacy of the respondents and the views of the applicants,” Galwey said.
“Although respondents expressed a commitment to do so in the future, their reluctance to do so so far leads me to give orders to maintain the height of the hedge.”
Catherine L’Estrange and Louise-Anne Louw said that since they bought the property in 2021, their view of the ocean (pictured) had been obstructed
After an on-site hearing in June, Glawey finally issued warrants in favor of L’Estrange and Louw.
“I believe that respondents’ lilly pilly hedge severely obstructs applicants’ view and that the situation warrants making tree trimming orders at regular intervals,” Galwey said.
In a sentence handed down this Tuesday, the court ordered that during the months of February and August of each year, the residents hire a contractor to prune the hedge, so that it does not exceed 3.8 m in height and that no branches protrude from the edge.
Neighbors will also be required to provide one week’s notice of each mowing event and mowing must be completed during reasonable hours of the day.
The case followed a similar one earlier this year, where neighbors clashed in court over palm trees after one complained they were obstructing his spectacular views.
Georgina Black said her uninterrupted views of Sydney Harbor were obstructed when neighbor Samira Jeihooni planted six cabbage palm trees on her property in Rose Bay in November 2021.
Black, who bought his waterfront home for $27.08 million in 2015, has asked the Land and Environment Tribunal to order Jeihooni to remove the trees, which can grow up to 15 meters tall.
Six palm trees sparked a costly court battle over $28 million harbor views (pictured) in Rose Bay, one of Australia’s wealthiest suburbs
She said that the cabbage trees obstructed her view and that Ms. Jeihooni should plant a different type of tree that would not grow more than eight meters.
Before the trees were planted, Ms Black had spectacular views of the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House from her dining room, kitchen and a first-floor bedroom, she said.
Ms Black’s developer said in her application that four of her neighbor’s trees had a “severe and devastating impact” on her views.
But Ms. Jeihooni said the trees helped provide privacy and shade for her garden, pool and house.
In her decision, Acting Commissioner Lynne Sheridan said, “Previously available views contributed significantly to the qualitative enjoyment of (Mrs. Black’s home).”
The commissioner noted that since the application was submitted, Ms. Jeihooni had the trees trimmed.
It also noted that Ms. Black’s husband offered to pay for the removal of the trees, but Ms. Jeihooni’s husband refused.
“The nature of the communications between the parties during the hearing convinced me that they are unlikely to reach an agreement,” said Ms. Sheridan.
In order to get the Jeihoonis to cut down their trees, the court had to find that two or more of the trees formed a hedge and seriously obstructed the view.
While Ms Black’s arborist said the palm trees formed a hedge, Ms Jeihooni’s arborist said they didn’t and never will as their leaves will never connect.
Mrs. Sheridan, who visited the site, discovered that the trees did not form a hedge, and gave three reasons in her explanation.
First, he said the palm trees were not planted close enough together to form a continuous barrier or screen.
“Secondly, it seems unlikely to me that someone trying to establish a hedge or screen would have planted palms that characteristically have a straight, slender trunk with leaves on top of the trunk,” said Ms Sheridan.
“Thirdly, there are no signs that these trees have been maintained by (Ms. Jeihooni) as a hedge.”
Before the trees were planted (shown in a picture provided by the Land and Environment Tribunal), Ms Black had spectacular views of the Harbor Bridge and Opera House from her dining room, kitchen and one bedroom. on the first floor, he said.
Ms. Sheridan added that the trees did little to obstruct Ms. Black’s views.
“For example, my observations on the site were that palm trees obstruct views of the harbor and Sydney Harbor Bridge from various seats at the dining room table or from a particular view from the kitchen.
“However, the entirety of the view is preserved, including views of Sydney Harbour, Harbor Bridge and the Opera House from other parts of the dining room table, dining room, living room, kitchen, sitting areas, etc. living rooms and bedrooms,” he said.
Ms. Sheridan dismissed Ms. Black’s request.