Author Topic: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please  (Read 9321 times)

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kathleen

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Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« on: November 09, 2010, 03:33:09 PM »
Wise Women I need all the united strength of your wisdom,

My husband and I spent two years searching for the "perfect retirement home."  As all you MIL's know, raising children involves decades of sacrifice, financially and in every way.  This was going to be our time in a home we loved, rather than the OK home we lived in while raising our kids to save money for college tuitions.  Don't get me wrong; I didn't feel deprived; my husband and I always were together on saving money and putting the kids first.  Plus, I didn't grow up in a  mansion. But it was definitely not my dream house.

We saved and saved our money for retirement.  My wonderful husband was so forward thinking, he started saving when he was 27; at the time I couldn't figure why he was doing it.  Now of course I bless him for it every day.  When we saw this house, we were thrilled---and especially that we could afford it.  It met every single item on our wish list.  What could be better?

What follows is either bad Dolores Claiborne or a B Lifetime Movie.  In fact, I've actually thought of writing this as a movie script. 

Unbeknownst to us, we moved across the street from a family of crude, angry, uneducated people. (I hasten to add our other neighbors are all wonderful people.) The house they live in is old, but there are many such houses in this area, some very historic, so one could not tell from looking at it what kind of people were inside.  We would soon find out.  The guy is basically running a car/truck repair out of the garage next to the house.  Yes, it's against zoning, but have you ever tried to prove something like this?  I got a list of everything we would have to do and believe me, not even Nancy Drew could cope with it.  Since this is a rural area, we don't have what is called a "code enforcement officer."  I don't know what good laws do if they aren't enforced.  I should add these people are renters.  They do not own the home.  It has been cared for by a very out-of-state landlord.  He is not receptive to any complaints.

The noise from the repair work was horrific, particularly when he was repairing jeeps. He would rev the truck engines to the highest possible degree of engine noise, over and over, sometimes from 5 AM to 10 PM, while hangin' out with his buddies drinking beer.  I saw a couple of creepy guys over there that made my skin crawl; you shouldn't judge by appearances, but if ever there was justification for that, this was it.  Apparently, one other neighbor thinks, they repair these vehicles, then take them out as swamp buggies, run them into the water and bogs until the things die, then put them on a flatbed and bring them back, lucky us, to the garage.  It is difficult to believe that an adult male, a father, a grown man, can call this fun, but apparently he does.  Imagine the effect on the wildlife in our swamps and bogs.  Crude, ugly crude.  Anyone who loves animals has to hate this.

Our neighbor finally contacted the realtor who was supposed to be in charge--the neighbor thought.  This rental agent, or whatever he is, called the family. As he reported it to my husband, the wife got very upset.  She claimed there was no noise.  "We don't even have a radio," she said. (Of course, it wasn't about a loud radio.)  How she can have no noise when my floor across the street is vibrating is obviously a world-class case of denial.  The agent gave up.  He gave some rigamarole about how he was no longer in charge.  Chalk this real estate company off the list; we'll certainly never use them, not after what they've inflicted on this area.

There were three young children in the house; recently, they seem to mysteriously have disappeared.  The school bus never stops anymore, and yes, I've taken to watching (snooping on?) the house and its activities.

These are the kind of ignorant, dangerous people who feel the laws don't apply to them.  Last Friday the guy started an open fire near his garage (and also the flames headed toward the neighbor's place.)  He kept dousing it with chemicals. I walked up the driveway to get my mail and saw these huge flames shooting tree-high into the air.  This was enough.  We called the fire warden; there actually is one, and he was very concerned.  The firebug had no permit.  The warden came over, talked to him, issued a permit, explained the law.  How a guy gets a permit after breaking the law---?Welcome to no-man's land. 

I've been newly named to a conservation commission in my town.  The day after the fire I went to an annual meeting state-wide.  There is a society for protecting forests and we live on next to part of  that land trust.  It's across from the neighbors from h---.  I learned these renter people are not supposed to be parking their many vehicles on that land.  (They park there to make way for the repair vehicles; they park vehicles waiting for repair.) 

I came back and reported this to my husband.  He went to take a photograph of the vehicles on the land trust; it's time to start documenting this, right?  So I was told by several sources.  No documentation, no legal action can be taken.  You can't just accuse somebody; you have to prove it.

That was Sunday morning.  The wild witch of a wife/mother, whatever she is, came out saw my husband---on our property, not hers---with the camera, and came out like banshee screaming at him.  She used the "f word" over and over.  (He was standing on our land, I emphasize, not even on the public road, and he was photographing a vehicle on protected land, not her property.)  She screamed they had been here a lot longer than we have, we're not welcome, get the f--- back in your house before I call the cops on you, get out of this town, we don't want you here.  As far as the protected land, she screamed it their garage used to be on that f--- land and we had no right to tell them they could not park there.  (We happened to know a town official had previously told them to stop doing it.)  It was absolutely awful.

As far as their garage, what I think happened was that the owner of the house decided to donate land to the trust to avoid paying taxes.  The garage that was on it was moved next to the house these abusive people now rent.

And then she did just that.  She called the police.  The next thing we knew, a police car pulled up in our driveway, bubble popping red, we were being investigated by a policeman with a notebook for taking a picture from our own property.  After about three minutes, the policeman not only relaxed but started grinning and being very friendly.  He could tell the situation, I think.  Eventually he said, "I've known the guy since he was young.  Let's just say neither one of them is ever going to run Goldman-Sachs (spelling?)"

I should be able to get over this, but I am extremely upset.  I am red with anger that this woman screamed to my husband that way.  We have never had any encounters before with police like this (I suspect she has had many.)  I wonder why we weren't telephone first to determine if any crime had been even remotely committed.  My son had just come up from the city for Sunday dinner, and he had to witness the police cruiser driving up and the policeman coming in the kitchen.  I haven't been sleeping well, something I just got over having worked through the whole situation with my absent son and DIL.  Wow am I upset---and furious---and frightened.  Not a good combination for a relaxing evening.

Have any of you had the neighbors-from------?  What did you do about it?   I have never seen anything this bad in all our years of residential living.  The woman is a screaming meemee of possible psychotic behavior.  What are these creeps going to do next?  Come over here and shoot out our windows?  Worse?  I have been sending emails to our friends, to document what happened, just in case.  I am getting very homesick for that little old house with the bad kitchen we raised our boys in, with the little old man next door who got along with everyone (and when his wife got Alzheimer's, everyone in the neighborhood watched and the day she made it out the door, she didn't get a block away) and the dynamite young, beautiful couple across the street who cared for everyone.  If this house now is Retirement Dreamland, they can have it, because I'm starting to really hate it.

We live in an area of the country that is extremely set on where you were born. At another layer of this society is the class system.  After that, it's where you went to school.   If you haven't been here for generations, you can skip being accepted---ever---by certain groups and people.  (This is America?) I went to an area meeting last night and the first thing the guest speaker did was announce, thankfully, making a huge point of it,  that he was "not from the midwest."  There is often extreme bigotry toward "outsiders," a word I never heard growing up.  In addition many of the poorer people have a deep resentment toward neighbors who have more, particularly "outsiders," but I quickly add that the geographic bigotry is by far not an attitude just of poorer people.  Frankly, if my children (the two that speak to us) did not live in this area, I would have insisted on leaving this part of the world.  Educated people who otherwise would never look down on anyone for being of a certain religion, ethnic group, or sex, feel nothing about open insults about other areas of the country and places like Canada (always considered inferior here.)  I think this is part of this feeling of my neighbors, their powerless anger that "outsiders" have moved into their town and they are going to try and get us out.  Well, she screamed it, didn't she?  Whatever miniscule bit of power they feel is embedded in being a native.  That's my gut feeling.

Where I grew up, we were always interested in any newcomer from another state, area, or country.  I never heard of this "outsiders" until I came here.  I find it pathetic.

I know that life cannot be perfect; after all, I've watched enough Made-for-Lifetime movies on Mothers & Madness Weekends to know that.  Still and all.  Still and all.  This is hateful.  Do we have to go on living with it?  Am I right, or am I paranoid, to be afraid?  Or what?

Finally, I want to add that I come from a family of farmers.  My grandfather's people homesteaded in North Dakota.  I hate snobbery in any form, and there is definitely snobbery sometimes against people who make their living off the land.  That is not the case here.   I am not a snob against rural people at all; my family were farmers.  But this---this is not something I can cope with.

Thanks for letting me vent.  As a writer, it is so helpful to me to see a situation in writing.  I would so much appreciate and value any practical advice on how to deal with this.

Kathleen

PS There is a web site called Rottenneighbors.com.  You can vent there about your neighbors.  That seems to me to pose a number of potentially serious problems, among them possible retaliation. I wasn't comfortable with that and wouldn't advise anyone to use it.  But I do understand the desperation that inspired it and keeps it going.



Offline Pen

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2010, 03:46:34 PM »
Oh boy. I'm so sorry you have to live like this, Kathleen. We almost had an issue with one of our new neighbors who told me his plans for his property one day. I was so glad I could tell him that the CCRs forbade the kind of activity he was eager to start and so far he hasn't tried it. I glance over when I pass in the car and plan to drop a dime if I notice anything, but who knows if the powers that be will respond?

I wish I had advice for you, but I've never dealt with anything like that. Please be careful; it sounds as though these people are thug status.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2010, 03:48:10 PM by Pen »
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

seasage

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2010, 03:47:50 PM »
I think you and your good neighbors need to sue the owner of the property for violation of zoning regulations.  If the owner doesn't want the hassle of a lawsuit, he  might evict the renters.  If it were me, I would consult with an attorney.  If you win the case, the zoning officers will be forced to take action.

1Glitterati

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2010, 06:45:40 PM »
Oh, Kathleen.  That's horrible.

Unfortunately...I don't see the problem being solved unless one of you moves. 

LaurieS

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2010, 09:35:09 PM »
I think you and your good neighbors need to sue the owner of the property for violation of zoning regulations.  If the owner doesn't want the hassle of a lawsuit, he  might evict the renters.  If it were me, I would consult with an attorney.  If you win the case, the zoning officers will be forced to take action.
I agree with seasage.. I too just sunk a ton of money into what was  suppose to be my retirement home, or at least a good investment.  As one of the last homes built on the street, so we could see exactly the home  values around us.. my next door neighbors assured us that they were thrilled with the thought of getting neighbors. 

We noticed that they were often burning yard debris on a regular basis, this type of burning is allowed in our county..but once in the house I thought that they would take note of the fact that their smoke literally engulfed our home.. they burned every since Sunday rain or shine. My new house even with windows closed was being invaded with damaging smoke.. 1st time we spoke directly with them, they said oh ok... 2nd time we were having a picnic in the yard when they lit the fire.. oh sorry they said we didn't mean to ruin your lunch.  3rd time they saw us coming and put the fire out.. 4th time, it was yeah yeah yeah, but we have the right to burn.. 5th time I told them with a hose in my hand and the county was at their door the next day.  So I got along with my new neighbors for less then 2  months lol... There were several childish acts of retaliation on their parts which we ignored... then they said well we'll put up a fence and if your view to the pond is blocked oh well... I asked them not  to but legally they were within their rights so I ignored the fence going up.  They told the other neighbors that they were not  doing it for revenge, but I think it was a little obvious to all.. Same week the fence went up, their house was  broken into and thousands of dollars in cash and thousands in jewelry was taken.  They had the police come over  to see if I saw anything.. I said ahhh nope all I see is that fence.

You are well within your rights to protect your property value.  I would document document  and document... you also have the right to take photos, recordings or anything else that may prove your case.. As long as you don't step onto their property.  My neighbors while they were right and we are allow to burn, they were not allowed to destroy my  property in the process, they were ordered to stop.

Like you Kathleen, I'm looking around going 'what gives'.. and when you're in a mix of older historical homes you do have more of a chance to have a neighbor who simply doesn't care.  I sold my 1903 home that we  restored for 20 years in part because the city would not enforce their own rules.  Everyday I looked out and saw my property value sinking.  I used the lack of rule enforcement to effectively have my property taxes lowered.. But as I  explained to the county  appraisal district.. I'd rather pay more in taxes and know that my property was economically sound.

I would contact an attorney and speak to him about the county ordinances and bylaws.  Let us know how it goes..

kathleen

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2010, 04:04:38 AM »
Laurie dear Laurie,

Thank you so much for providing the first ray of insight and possible hope.  Your note about property values and applying for lowered taxes is absolutely great.  I never thought of it.  What's wrong in these situations is a community saying "This doesn't affect me, therefore it's your problem."  People who act out destructively should be a community problem.  That is awful about the fires.  And the retaliation.  What a way to live.

We have another very old house up the road and these people keep it perfectly.  She doesn't like the tenants either.  She told me she felt property values definitely were being lowered due to their behavior and the trashy way they keep the place.

Bless you.  Definitely will keep you posted.

So sorry you too are going through this.  It's so much stress, isn't it?  Feel free to vent with me any time,

Kathleen


free_at_last

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2010, 05:40:10 AM »
Wow...when I read things like this I thank my lucky stars that my nearest neighbor is at least a quarter mile away (and she is a sweetheart).  Then again I have a livestock guardian dog that spends most of the night barking to keep the coyotes away so I'm sure people would be glad they aren't my neighbor, either. 

Kathleen, you're description of the midwest fits my rural midwestern community to a tee.  Most have been here for generations (including me) and it's next to impossible for "outsiders" to fit in.  So sad, really.  Makes for a very small world.  I love my community, but I hate the intolerance that runs rampant here....heaven forbid someone that's "different" than everyone else might move in.  Most don't stay long if they don't have some kind of roots or connections here. 

seasage

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2010, 06:56:56 AM »
Kathleen,

Bringing in the county tax assessor to revalue your property is a GREAT idea!  Be sure to tell him/her exactly why you are asking for the revaluation, because it will have a bearing on future court cases as I will explain.  (The tax assessor may be called to court as a witness, and you want him to explain that the lower value of your property is due to to presence of an illegal business across the street.)

In order to sue in a court, you must have what is called 'standing', which means that you must be able to show that harm has been done to you, and that the court can mitigate your loss.  You will have standing if the value of your property is decreased by the business.  You might also want to check out local noise ordinances - your neighbors may be in violation of this also, although I would consider the noise secondary to your property value.

Sue the owner of the property for the loss in value of your property.  He will get those louts out really fast!  Especially since he is clearly not a member of the local mafia.  Dealing with the rental agent is clearly useless.  Besides, the rental agent has motivation to keep the tenants in place.  It will affect his bottom line, and possibly his contract with the owner, if he fails to keep the property rented.

You also need one or more observers at every meeting of your local zoning board.  You don't want the good-ole-boys to change the zoning laws on you, or to grandfather the current business.  If you and one of your neighbors can go to each zoning board meeting for awhile, state that these louts are in violation of zoning laws --- keep bringing it up ....  Yeah, I know, and I hate being a nuisance also, but sometimes it must be done.

Sorry about the trouble one has to go through to maintain a nice neighborhood.   I only know these things through experience, and my sympathies are with you.

kathleen

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2010, 07:31:21 AM »
We have checked on the noise ordinance and one does not exist; however, there is disturbing the peace and the police officer told us to contact him again if there was "unreasonable" noise at "unreasonable times,"so we will now have to document this through police action, if it continues.  Maybe that's a good thing, to have a record of what goes on over there.  We will also push for a noise ordinance to be voted in at town meeting next spring, but that won't help much now.

Threatening the landlord is a good idea.  We'll move on that; he just ignores all complaints, as he sits there collecting his rents. 

Seasage and Laurie you have been so very helpful.  Thank you again and again,

Kathleen


seasage

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2010, 07:31:36 AM »
After thinking about your plight while taking a shower (where I do my best thinking).

1. Document the business.  Picture of vehicles, with license plates (to prove that the vehicles are not registered to the renters).  Document the time the noise starts, when it ends.
2. Go to a lawyer.  You may only have to pay him for 2 letters:  Letter #1 to the county tax assessor asking for revaluation on the basis of a business across the street.  Letter #2 may be to the property owner about your loss of property value, or to the local municipality, or whomever your attorney recommends. 

I think that the mere fact you are starting legal action will accomplish your goals.  A few well-placed letters will probably accomplish your aim.  But those letters MUST come from an attorney.

Also think carefully about what your aims are.  Do you want your neighbors to stop the illegal business, or do you want them to move?  Talk to your attorney candidly about this.  Take his advice.


kathleen

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2010, 08:21:31 AM »
Laurie, did you hire an attorney?

Seasage:  do you think it's better to hire an attorney from town, or out of town?  Will an attorney in town be part of the "outsider" thing where he may actually represent a longtime local more than us?  Or, would a local attorney have more clout and more knowledge?  What do you think?

Thanks for thinking of me during your shower-think time!

Kathleen

seasage

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2010, 08:29:15 AM »
I would ask around town.  You want the attorney with the best reputation in the local courts, the best reputation as judged by other local attorneys.  You want that attorney who has the highest morals, etc.  (When an attorney is highly valued by the local judges, he will usually prevail in court.  And the local zoning officers, etc. will pay attention to what he says and does.)  This will probably be your attorney for all the things you might need to do in the future, so it pays to find the old "gentleman" of the courts.

cremebrulee

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2010, 11:34:49 AM »
Hi Kathleen
I'm very sorry to read your troubles, and I know how devestating bad neighbors can be, but you've got to calm down...that is first and foremost.

She can yell and scream at you as much as she wants, but you were on your own property...and she got upset, b/c she knows they are in the wrong.

The officer more then likely got a whole different story from her, believe me...the fact that he told you he dealt with this man before, speaks volumns...

Continue to document things, however, I wouldn't hold your breath that the neighbors will come along for the ride...but I will say this, if things get bad enough, they might.

In the end, this will all work out, but I would be very careful how focal you are about locally...come here and vent, however, try to say as little as possible for the safety of your own family.

Down south, and it sounds like you live down there, there seems to be a certain loyalty towards the "good ol' boys", meaning they stick up for each other, so be very careful.

The other gals here have also given you some good advice to chew on....so, first and foremost, try very hard to calm down...and remember, that neighbor woman only yelled at your husband, thats all.  I know it is instinct to want to be protective, however, he's a big boy and he wasn't hurt  as much as you were by her outburst, actually remember, the cop smiled.

Oh, and do something nice for the cop after this is over...not now, but when this is all over, write a letter to his Captain, telling him how good you feel this officer handled the situation, professionally and with great awareness.  This letter will be put in the officers file and go to bat for him when he is due a promotion.

Hugs and much love

Creme

LaurieS

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2010, 12:54:04 PM »
For my Victorian house I did not need to hire an attorney as when we went to the appraisal district appeal, the board which is not associated with the appraisal district was very sympathetic and granted us the decreased values.  Had we not gotten that,  then we were going to be forced to hire an attorney.

My current neighbors thought we did hire an attorney, so they really towed the line when putting up the fence, even had their lot resurveyed because I told the association that I witnessed the husband messing with the property stakes.  After the county became involved with the "nuisance burning" my neighbors have ceased to have any more fires.  I would think that a protest of nuisance noise might have some bearing as well.

Bad neighbors are a major pain in the rump (Luise again).. but thank your lucky stars that they are renters. 

Here is the Victorian house.. broke my heart to sell this but you know an investment is an investment

« Last Edit: November 10, 2010, 03:17:32 PM by Laurie »

jomama

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Re: Neighbors from: Need your Help Please
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2010, 11:26:35 PM »
Hey! That's my Granny's house!  :D

Lucky for me, my county doesn't even have building codes.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2010, 11:36:31 PM by jomama »