A Woonona woman has complained that Wollongong City Council is being too heavy-handed in its enforcement of nature strip rules, ordering her to undo work on a verge garden at her new home.
Fiona Chanter and her husband Andrew Saunders recently bought their Hillcrest St house and set about working to "beautify" the front section by making a new garden and extending it across the nature strip to the edge of the road.
They had covered the grass with cardboard and mulch made from bark, along with a treated pine border.
But it wasn't long before a letter from Wollongong City council warned they could be hit with an on-the-spot penalty of $330 for the obstruction over the public road reserve.
The nature strip is part of the road and owned by the council, and Ms Chanter was told there had been four complaints.
Ms Chanter said concerns about wheelchair access were unreasonable as there was no footpath on that side of the street.
"I was just gobsmacked," she said.
"We cannot have anything whatsoever between our fence line and the road verge.
"We haven't had the opportunity to either explain ourselves or to do what we wanted to do, which was to beautify the area."
We're quite open to negotiation and to doing something that would appease themFiona Chanter
A Wollongong City Council spokesman said it was necessary to reinstate "reasonable and safe" access for pedestrians.
"Council rangers have met with the resident about illegal mulch that covers the entire road reserve in Hillcrest Avenue," he said.
"A road reserve provides access and a safe route for all people along suburban roads.
"Council will be asking the resident to remove mulch as it impedes pedestrian access along this road reserve and staff will work with the resident to reinstate reasonable and safe pedestrian access along the nature strip."
Ms Chanter, who said she was a qualified horticulturalist who worked for many years with National Parks, said she had planned to kill the grass and plant new plants near the road.
"It's not like we wanted to put in a whole lot of trees - we wanted to put in a proper verge garden," she said.
"We're quite open to negotiation and to doing something that would appease them."