Overgrown footpath garden kicked to kerb
SOUTH Mackay resident Larry Murchie has been left distraught after an assembly of council workers, flanked by three police officers, ripped up the footpath garden he "lives for".
Mr Murchie has planted numerous fruit trees and herb plants in the front yard of his Clements St home in the last decade, even drawing praise from ABC's garden guru Costa Georgiadis in 2013.
But his garden zen has drawn the ire of the council, who had lodged two separate matters against him in recent months.
The situation came to a head on Tuesday morning when council officers began removing plants and items from his rental property.
Mr Murchie, who has a cognitive learning disability from an injury he suffered early in life, is dependant on the disability pension.
"I'm a poor man, and I try to live a rich life by gardening and my rich life has now been destroyed," Mr Murchie said.
"That was my hobby... they have taken my hobby to the dump.
"My stones, my bridges, my planks of wood, my poplar plants, my curry trees, my lemongrass."
The 48-year-old, who had become agitated by the incident, was later arrested by police and spent about three hours in the watch house.
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He was charged with one count each of obstructing police and committing public nuisance, bailed, and issued a notice to appear in Mackay Magistrates Court in October.
"I told the [council officers] there, that they are insane to let someone do this to somebody else, it is sacrilege," Mr Murchie said.
"They dismantled my garden."
Mackay Regional Council's community and client services director Bridget Mather said a permit approved in 2013 for the footpath garden bed to remain was approved, on the basis Mr Murchie would maintain the area.
She said the garden had been "overgrown" and "untidy" and Mr Murchie had not complied with repeated requests from council to maintain it.
"We went in [on Tuesday morning] and removed that footpath garden. We also took action to tidy the front and rear yards of the adjacent property, which had also been the subject of customer complaints about its untidy state," she said.
"We did that work with the approval of the owner of the property, the Department of Housing and Public Works, which will meet the cost of the property tidy-up."
It is understood Mr Murchie is facing no further fines from the council.
A spokesperson for the Department of Housing and Public Works said it treats each case individually in assessing liability for repairs at properties.