Homeowner wins court case over woodpile

Saskia Wanrooij, 68, was taken to court by the town council when she refused to remove a woodpile at her back door

14 January 2021
By Connexion journalist

A woman who was taken to court by a town council when she refused to remove a woodpile at her back door has been awarded damages of €1,500 after the case was thrown out.

The case against Saskia Wanrooij, 68, won her a lot of support in the village of Saissac, in the Aude department.

She is still not sure why the mairie suddenly decided the wood- pile had to go after she said she had used it since moving in 21 years ago, and knows the previous owners used it too. She said the house has “always” been heated by wood.

“I am so happy that I won,” she said.

“The whole thing made no sense at all – I think someone just got a bee in their bonnet and would not see reason.”

After the council began proceedings against her, saying the pile was on public property, which she disputes, she met the mayor to plead her case, then argued her case again before the full town council.

“They were very sympathetic and looked as though they understood my arguments, but when it came to the vote, they decided to carry on to court – it was very strange,” she said. The court in Carcassonne ruled that the council had not proved that the woodstore was on the road, and not on a margelle (step) which was part of her property.

Created many years ago, the concrete margelle covers raw rock left when the road was built. Judges said that legally the cadastral map used by the council had only an indicative value and could not be relied on for exact measurements.

They added that photos taken by Ms Wanrooij showed that by keeping the woodpile on the step, she had left ample space for people using the pavement, and that the margelle also extended to her next-door neighbours, who were not being sued.

In addition to paying Ms Wanrooij €1,500, the commune was ordered to pay the expenses of the case.

“It just shows that when there is something not right, it pays to fight it,” said Ms Wanrooij.

“Obviously, it has not been nice to be taken to court but I have faith in justice.”

No one was available from the town council to comment on the result.

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