Health fears grow in dispute saga

AN unneighbourly dispute at Elbow Valley over property access, which broke out in July 2010, has still not been resolved by council and state authorities.

As reported previously, landowners Lindsay Madsen and James Cunich have been in dispute with adjoining residents over the placement of fences in the vicinity of Woods and Ravenscroft Rds and on road reserves, which have cut off access to their properties.

The case has highlighted what is a growing and widespread problem across the region when it comes to agreeing on the correct alignment of ungazetted and unformed roads and road reserves.

In September 2010 the Daily News reported that a neighbour's fence cutting off access to Mr Madsen's property had been built in the right place, but that Mr Madsen - who has a heart condition - had been given no advance warning to allow him to construct a new all-weather access to his home.

The Southern Downs Regional Council graded a temporary access at the time and committed to finding a permanent solution, but to date has only been able to suggest nearby Barlows Gate Rd, which Mr Madsen says is all but impassable near his property.

Two State Government departments are now investigating council's handling of the matter.

Mr Madsen is understood to have suffered another cardiac episode this week, from which he is now recovering at home.

In email correspondence sent to the council on Tuesday, Mr Madsen submitted photographs demonstrating his claim that nearly 12 kilometres of Barlows Gate Rd near his home is "not trafficable other than for weekend dirt bike enthusiasts", due to new gully crossings needed and permanent swamp sections.

Mr Madsen has also claimed another neighbour died as the result of an accident in 2005, with the condition of Barlows Gate Rd having delayed the arrival of an ambulance.

He has previously cited the long-running dispute as evidence of a trend towards a lack of co-operation between rural neighbours not often seen in the past.

Mayor Ron Bellingham said in a brief statement last night that council had been dealing with the Department of Environment and Resource Management, the Department of Local Government, the Darling Downs-Moreton Rabbit Board and property owners in the area to "come up with a resolution that will provide alternative access for everyone".

"However, the matter has been complicated due to the proximity of the New South Wales border and the location of the rabbit fence," Cr Bellingham said.

Do you have a story about rural roads? Call us on 4660 1310.

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