Resident abandoned in fight

Alone: Dianne Baltussen was shocked to watch as a developer knocked her fenced down despite warning signs against her wish.

A Murray Bridge resident says she has been abandoned by the council and police after a neighbouring property developer knocked down her fence without warning.

Verdun Street resident Dianne Baltussen said Aspire Property Invest began work on a Grey Street property behind her home in 2005 with the intent to build six homes.

Ms Baltussen said she arrived home on October 10 last year to find her back fence leaning on a 65-degree angle.

“I looked over the fence and could see the development site behind had been levelled with backfill and quarry dust up to, against, and pushing over the fence,” she said.

“Which, I add, was already inside the true boundary line.”

Ms Baltussen said she had not received a letter of intent and was given no warning that her fence would be compromised.

After contacting the Murray Bridge council about her situation, Ms Baltussen said she was alerted to multiple errors in the developer’s actions.

Ms Baltussen said she had a land surveyor assess the situation who confirmed the fence was entirely inside her boundary line, except for one strainer post in the corner.

“The very next day I released all beams, iron and nails from that post so he could pull the post out,” she said.

In a letter dated October 30, Murray Bridge council health, building and compliance manager Clarry Fisher notified Ms Baltussen that the developer had promised to replace the fence when the dwellings were completed.

Ms Baltussen said it was not the result she was looking for.

“It’s not about the fence, it’s not about the money, it’s about principle,” she said.

“It’s my property and he showed complete disregard for that.”

Three months later the next issue in the dispute flowered in the form of the noxious weed, caltrop.

In spring, the development site became overgrown with the weed and Ms Baltussen again contacted the council in fear it would spread to her property if the fence was taken down.

She said she was directed to the Natural Resource Centre SA Murray Darling Basin, who inspected the property next door and informed her it was badly contaminated.

Ms Baltussen said the man who helped her even went as far as to say he would testify in court on her behalf, however, the organisation would not confirm the conversation after being advised by its media coordinator.

The ongoing dispute reached boiling point last month, when Ms Baltussen heard banging outside her house on April 19.

“I raced to the window and it broke my heart,” she said.

“(The developer) was on a mad rampage with his co-worker, just belting into the fence and knocking, pushing any which way all the time looking to see if I had noticed yet.”

Ms Baltussen called the police, but she said she was left even more heart-broken after their visit.

“The sergeant came late on the scene and didn’t look at nearly all the information the other policemen did,” she said.

“They didn’t understand half of what had happened.

“They said “look at your old fence, he’s putting up a new one” … all the time telling Scott to continue”.

Ms Baltussen said she was upset after the run-in – not only because of the invasion of her property – but also because she felt the police had failed to help.

“The police sergeant failed to act on my complaint,” she said.

“They gave the developer permission to proceed and have no right to.

“I was the one that obeyed the rule book, kept my land clear of declared weed, never knocked over a neighbour’s fence and not tell them.

“I’ve got no one to fight for me.”

Ms Baltussen said the entire dispute was based on principle and could have been avoided.

Ms Baltussen said she was now considering seeking legal advice.

Aspire Property Invest did not return calls from The Standard.

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