Pensioners at war over fence

DANGEROUS: Burwood Villas residents Kathleen and Glyn Hardy say that the fence erected around a neighboring villa limits visibility and is a hazard for drivers.

Pensioners at a retirement village are locked in a bitter dispute over a fence.

The six-year battle has led to accusation and counter accusation, and the involvement of a lawyer and a traffic engineer.

And there appears to be no end in sight to the dispute between Kathleen and Glyn Hardy, aged in their 80s, and Patsy Clegg, 67, who had the fence built outside her property at Sanctuary Villas, Burwood.

DIVISION: The fence that has created conflict among neighbors at the over 60’s retirement village, Burwood Villas.

The Hardys say moving to Sanctuary Villas, after the February 22, 2011, earthquake destroyed their home, was the “biggest mistake of our lives.”

They say Mrs Clegg’s trellis and wooden fence is illegal and dangerous.

The body corporate committee which oversees Sanctuary Villas affairs on behalf of the residents sought legal advice, which said the fence breached the Unit Titles Act and recommended it be removed.

The fence borders a private access road used by residents including Mr and Mrs Hardy.

The Hardys claim the fence extends from Mrs Clegg’s property onto land owned by all of the residents, restricting visibility and making it dangerous for road users, including ambulances.

But the Hardys said the body corporate committee told them there wasn’t enough support amongst residents to call for the fence to be removed.

That was in 2015, and now the Hardys have gone to National’s list MP for Christchurch East Jo Hayes for help.

Mrs Hayes said yesterday: “I trust that this issue will resolve itself through a common sense approach from all parties.”

Mrs Clegg told The Star she had tried to work with the Hardys to come up with a solution, including shifting and making changes to the fence last year.

She said the Hardys had agreed to the alterations, but subsequently “reneged” and had began complaining again.

Her life had been “made a misery” over the conflict and said the “Hardys could do what they liked.”

The Hardys claim body corporate rules were broken over the fence, but Mrs Clegg says that is incorrect.

Under the Unit Titles Act, owners must have written consent from the body corporate before changing any structures on common property.

Committee chairman Paul Lyons told The Star instead of asking for the fence to be pulled down, it took advice of a traffic engineer to reduce the speed limit in the village from 20km/h to 15km/h.

There are also plans to paint a white line on the road around the corner to ensure vehicles keep left.

Mr Lyons said he thought it was unreasonable to ask for the fence to be removed.

He would not say how much the legal advice and traffic engineer’s time had cost.

“The body corporate has to balance the needs of all owners in the village with the need to reduce risk as much as we can,” he said.

He said the position of Mrs Clegg’s villa at the corner of the complex’s two access roadways meant there was a need to balance privacy for the resident with the need for visibility at the corner.

“We feel we have done this under the guidance of an appropriately qualified expert.”

Mr Lyons said if the Hardys were still unhappy, they could present another resolution at a body corporate meeting.

But the Hardys say the issue is one of visibility, not speed and they want the fence gone. They say there have been numerous near-misses and the reduction in speed has not made any difference.