May 29, 2008

Not-so-neighborly neighbors

My next door neighbor is no longer speaking to me. I'm hurt, frustrated, and a bit angry by the entire episode, so thought I'd vent here.

Yesterday was a beautiful day and I grabbed a new quilting magazine and an iced tea, and headed for our back deck to enjoy the weather. Between babysitting and gardening and yard work and this and that, I hadn't had a chance to just sit, relax and enjoy. So that was my plan.

I heard voices next door, and didn't pay much attention. I knew our neighbor was out working in his vegetable garden, and he's a gregarious guy, so I assumed he was just chit-chatting with another neighbor. I looked up a few minutes later and saw six men in shirts with a tree company logo, looking up at the trees in the corner of MY yard, pointing, discussing... Now, my neighbor had jokingly (I thought) told me he wanted me to cut down my trees in the back of our yard because they're blocking the morning sun to his vegetable garden. I thought it was just wishful thinking on his part -- there was no way I was cutting down trees! (Let me add -- his has a HUGE very sunny yard, but his small vegetable garden is in the ONLY shady spot on his property.)

So, I watched the tree men and the neighbor gesturing and pointing and making cutting-sweeps with their hands, all the while looking at MY trees! I walked over to them, and said, "You're not planning on cutting my trees down, are you?" and Neighbor said, "Wellllll... I just want them to cut the TOPS off - not the whole tree." THUD! Are you kidding me?!? I just looked at the tree guys and said, "Those trees are on my property and you don't have my permission to cut them." Honestly, I was in shock -- how could anyone even consider doing that to a neighbor?

The tree in question is this big tree just to the right of the electrical lines. He wanted to "top it off" from the top of the lines up. The electric line pole is the corner of the boundary line -- the tree is obviously to the right of that pole. (And actually we believe we own about 10 feet to the left of the pole as well). That's my vegetable garden you see -- his is about 20 feet to the left of that.

So, very long afternoon later, my neighbor (who drinks way too much, had the day off, and apparently started drinking very early) has cussed at me, told me he was going to build a cement wall down the length of the property boundaries, told me he was never going to speak to me again, and more -- believe me, much more.

Now, this guy has been a GOOD neighbor. Yes, he drinks (I'd actually thought he'd quit but...) and sometimes does some stupid stuff (blow up his pool pump because he mixed too many chemicals; completely burned his garden when he, again, went overboard with insecticides, etc.), but he's also one of those neighbors that would give you the shirt off his back. He brings his snowblower to our driveway every snowstorm and cleans the driveway for us. I bake him brownies in return. He's not the best neighbor, but he's certainly not the worst.

I recognize that all this isn't my fault -- he had no right to call those guys to cut down or even trim our trees. But I'm beside myself because I know he's a good neighbor and I hate that this is going to come between us! He won't listen to reason, he now believes our boundary line is off and wants to get it surveyed (which is really going to be a rude awakening for him, because we actually own far more land than he thinks we do...and have always left that alone)... and worst of all, he turns his back to us when he sees us. It's so sad!!! Jeff went over to reason with him today, and there was just no getting through to him that he had no right to even bring the tree cutters in to "top" our trees. He just won't listen to any of it. He says *I* was beligerent (possible - I was angry) and approached him "in the wrong way" -- well, I'm not sure what the RIGHT way is, when you look outside and see tree cutters about to climb up your trees, but...

Regardless, I'm sad about the entire episode. I attributed his lack of common sense to his drinking, but today is a new day, he's sober, and he's still angry and not speaking. I told him I was sorry if the way I approached him at the time bothered him, and I was truly sorry that he was going to let this come between us as neighbors. He just brushed me off, and later brushed Jeff off as well.

So that's my vent. It didn't do any good or change anything, and apparently things aren't going to change in the near future (until he gets the land surveyed and finds out how much of "his" land we actually own, that is)... I do think he needs to apologize to either Jeff or I for even having called those tree cutters to quote him a fee to cut our trees, but I'd settle for just having my neighbor back again.

Ah well... I guess if this is the worst thing that happens to me this week, I'll be having a pretty darn good week.


Lisa said...

Neighbor disputes can be harsh and can really put a damper on the enjoyment of your yard if he is out there and refusing to speak to you. I completely understand why you're upset, and it's unfortunate that it happened.

Hopefully, he would not do something such as go ahead and have them trimmed and then make you fight him in court about it. Neighbor disputes such as this are often left alone by police or HOAs (though I don't think you have an HOA) and then you are really just stuck with a civil case. I have first-hand experience with dealing with multiple neighbor disputes regarding boundary lines, dogs barking, fences, landscaping, etc. and it is hard to enforce. It's best to just hope that it never happens to you!

It is really too bad that he wouldn't listen to you or Jeff because once it gets to that level, everyone loses.

Joan said...

You're exactly right, Lisa. Everyone loses. I'm hoping to talk to his wife today and see if perhaps she can mediate all this mess (or at least calm him down a bit).

Tipper said...

Oh how sad. I'm sorry. I can't believe he called them without asking you-but I understand why you just want it all to work out. Maybe his wife will help him see or maybe he just got emabarassed and he'll come around.

The Calico Quilter said...

Can you go to the courthouse and get the survey map from their files? I bet there are pins driven into the ground at the corners of the lots the same as here. With the map you probably can find them, and settle the boundary thing once and for all without paying a surveyer.

Do the branches of your tree extend past the property line? I believe he is allowed to cut anything that hangs over the line, but certainly can't legally do anything about where the shade falls! I'm assuming that the tree was there when he laid out his garden. He should have figured it out.

I'm so sorry that this has made you upset.

Joan said...

We actually have our plot plan, that's why I say he's not going to be happy when he gets the property surveyed. No, the tree doesn't hang over his property (he brought that up as well). I actually went to Neighbor and told him he could go ahead and top the tree (within reason) if it meant we could put an end to all this -- that the tree is less important than the good will between neighbors. Neighbor refused and got nasty all over again. Apparently, only time is going to heal his wound, and I'm not sure even that will be the cure. I've had to just let the entire episode go -- there's just nothing more I can do!

Anonymous said...

How sad. What an awful situation to live with every day.

It always amazes me how some people thrive on anger, feeding it and stoking the fire. Use that energy for something positive!

Thanks for emailing!