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Construction at Palm Beach County school changes neighbor's property

One woman lost trees, which she said cost her more than $10,000 in maintenance costs
Posted at 11:15 PM, Jan 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 23:15:03-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fl. — After a dispute over the property line between a home and Melaleuca Elementary School, construction crews for the Palm Beach County School District destroyed a homeowner's fence made out of trees earlier this month.

Bonnie Swink-Rineri, who owns the home and lives with her husband who is a disabled U.S. veteran, said she's spent thousands of dollars on the trees. She said the trees stopped students from throwing objects into their backyard.

“I’m just so sick," Swink-Rineri said. "I can’t believe anybody could destroy anything that somebody has worked so hard on.”

Bonnie Swink-Rineri surveys her backyard after trees were torn down by the Palm Beach County School District. Jan. 29, 2024
Bonnie Swink-Rineri surveys her backyard after trees were torn down by the Palm Beach County School District.

The Palm Beach County School District remodeled Melaleuca Elementary School over the last year. The school reopened earlier this month after a delay due to issues in the global construction market.

According to documents shared with WPTV, the district paid for a new survey showing a different property line between her home and the elementary school during construction. The new property line means the trees enclosing Bonnie Swink-Rineri's home as well as some backyard lights and her sprinkler system are located on the school's property.

A spokesperson for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said it was called to ensure Swink-Rineri didn't interfere with crews earlier this month.

WPTV's Ethan Stein saw a new chain fence added to the property on Monday night, which was crooked as it wrapped around trees and the home's sprinkler system. The fence also has holes on the bottom, which are large enough for small animals to crawl under the fence.

Swink-Rineri said she's especially upset after dealing with construction nearby for months.

"Our house was rattling," she said. "We were sitting here at the table and the table was just shakin'."

On Monday night, WPTV again eached out to the Palm Beach County School District, who told us it wouldn't send us a statement over Swink-Rineri's dispute.

Ann Haga, who also lives next to Melaleuca Elementary School, sent WPTV videos showing the construction noise being heard in her house multiple times. She said the noise is "nonstop" and said the noise from the school has gotten worse after foliage was removed from her fence.

"It's just so loud and obnoxious," Haga said. "It seems like it is worse now."

She also said they used the foliage on the fence to hide eggs for an easter egg hunt, which hosted about 100 people.