Today’s guest post comes from Crystalbay
Fifteen years ago, I had the great blessing of moving into the cottage in which my parents lived for over half of a century. We’d lived in the same story and a half home in Minnetonka for thirty years and been the social hub of our cul de sac. I’d just walk out of the front or backdoor and there were very friendly neighbors happy to see me. Our children grew up together, our parents died, graduations and marriages seeded this small community, bonding us together as only sharing a neighborhood could.
All of that pretty much ceased the day we moved to the lake and I’ve been isolated out here ever since.
The people on one side hadn’t worked in three generations as grandpa bequeathed them a fortune from grain. She bought a huge boat and named it “Migrain”. I haven’t set foot on their four-acre property in six years after taking an aerial photo of our properties to show them, being offered a glass of wine, then told, “When you’ve finished this, go home”. They’ve always had at least four big dogs. One time, a friend was visiting here with a like-sized dog and the romping dogs next door compelled him to join and have dog fun. My neighbor took out a garden hose and sprayed him, all the while yelling, “Get this damn dog off my property!”
It’s really the neighbors on my other side, however, with whom there’ve been years of blatant conflict. They adored my sweet, quiet, old parents and were very kind to them throughout the years. Then came us with home renovations, gatherings of friends and old neighbors, audible sounds of grandchildren, AND five indoor/outdoor fur persons. They were cat-haters and were given to screaming at any cat who sauntered into their yard as though their lives were threatened.
The first summer after my divorce, I agreed to let a friend use my dock for his 16’ fishing boat in return for mowing. In my divorce, wasband got the boat with no dock and I got the dock with no boat. The two sets of neighbors got together and wrote a memo that this was a violation of city ordinances and they didn’t want “To have our property turned into a public marina”. I had to tell my friend to dock elsewhere.
I’ve already shared the hidden fence disaster. To show their disdain for us, the first fall we lived here, they had their huge boat house structure hydraulically deposited right on our property line. This obstructed our view of the lake significantly. I called the city and was told they were violating the city code of a 75’ setback for anything obstructing a neighbor’s view. They were incensed that I’d done this.
The next year, they threatened to build a fence along the property line. I should mention that this line is about three feet away from the cottage. Again, I called the city and was told that they weren’t allowed to do this. Again, they were outraged that I’d inquired. What came next was very creative on their part: they augured holes two feet apart running the length of the property all the way down to the lake so that they could plant arborvitae trees – the ones that grow rapidly up to 40’ tall. This would’ve created a virtual wind tunnel out of my 75’ wide lot.
A funny thing happened to those baby trees, however. Late one night, I slipped out there with a toxic solution.
I’m leaving out half a dozen similar examples of conflicts, but the big one came last summer when a twin tree (shared rootball) fell across their yard, leaving the huge rootball exposed from the tree still standing. Leaning dangerously over my roof, I might add. Another one of their trees is leaning toward the cottage has a branch 3’ in diameter which has split 5’ from the trunk. They refused to do anything about these potentially cottage crushing trees.
I did my homework and learned that my insurance would cover damages AFTER I paid my $5000 deductible. I wrote them a very civilly- worded letter offering to chip in $500 for the cost of felling the trees. He called, yelling that I’d broken the law by putting the letter in his mailbox. I said, “Well then, I should’ve walked it over” to which he replied, “That would be trespassing!” I had four different certified arborists assess the trees. All of them concurred that they were a clear and present danger to my home and provided estimates of the cost to fell them. I’d learned my lesson by now that I’d be breaking a federal law unless I mailed the next letter to them. I included the assessments and estimates in the letter.
He then called saying that my home would collapse before these trees fell because, “Your home is in a swamp!” My home is on the same level ground that his is. Ultimately, he hired a crew to do the job and told me both trees down would be cut down, but only if I gave them $500 in cash upfront. The crew came and told me that he’d only hired them to take one tree down. I told them that he’d lied to me and they left, wanting no part of a neighborhood feud. He called later that day, yelling all sorts of wild, rageful, and irrational things, ending his diatribe with, “Don’t you EVER call this number again!!!!!”
This is where it stands today. Two trees about to crash into my cottage and sleepless nights when there’s a storm or a strong wind. As bad as the potential disaster, though, is the level of contempt I feel towards these people and a fear of unleashing it! I don’t do anger well and have very rarely even practiced it on anyone in my life. Let’s just hope against hope that I die before the trees fall.
Question: What (if any) problems have you had with your neighbors?