Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Lady Survivors

Dealing with Neighbors

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Greyghost:
Hey Ladies, and Guys if they're listening in...this is kind of a long explanation, so bear with me.

Our little family of 3 moved from suburbia to a 4.5 acre parcel in "the country" at the beginning of this year. Super excited to take our homesteading to the next level. However, we have a neighbor to the South of us, that has become a nuisance. I'll explain:

We left for a 2 day trip recently and were unable to take our 2 dogs with us. This is not normal for us, it was just unavoidable in this situation. When we returned home, I had a voicemail from animal control about the dogs barking excessively and to call them because this was "an on-going issue with us"...first I've heard of it. Then about a week later we get a note in the mailbox on Sunday from our neighbor saying our dogs were barking all night and currently barking and very disturbing, please control them. The neighbor left his name and number. On Monday, the next day, we got a letter from our County about a complaint of excessive animal noise. The county informed us, the complainant requested and was given a log book to document occurrences.

Now I'm at a loss. We live in an area where everyone is on 4 or more acres, zoned for ANYTHING you want to do. People have donkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, emus, peacocks, and most importantly guard dogs. So noise throughout the day and night is common. You can hear the coyotes howling at night and in the am, they are loud! And here's the kicker: My husband works from home. So aside from us leaving to run errands, the dogs aren't left alone and are in fact in the house all night and only outside when my husband is outside.

When we first moved in, our first and most important task was to make sure the fence was sound and we ran a hotwire. While doing this, the complaining neighbor came out to say hi. This was our first meeting. He proceeded to tell us that he routinely pulled up the fence to drag out the debris that collected on the fence line. He did this, he informed us,  because county regulations state that a fence cannot impede the free flow of water, and that sticks building up look bad. Of course we gave him a very stern look, and he then assured us that he wouldn't be a problem for us. All we told him was, we just want to be left alone, that's why we moved out here.

Fastfoward to all this business with complaints being filed. We never touched base with anyone. That wasn't my personal decision, but that was the family decision: just keep your mouth shut and let it blow over.  This weekend we got rain overnight. So as is normal for us, we got up, ate a nice breakfast, fed the animals and walked the fence line to check it. This neighbor had pulled up our fence, AND took the stakes out that held the fence in place. His VERY obvious footprints went from his property to our fence line. So, we called the Sheriff. We let the officer know the situation about the complaints, etc. Obviously, the Sheriff can't do anything substantial. He went over there and talked to him, took pictures etc.

But here's the thing: Now, I'm afraid to develop our land. We have wonderful natural swales that have been made by creosote bushes. We have some very useful washes that run across our property that we can use.  But I'm legitimately afraid that we will be harassed because this guy thinks its ok to impose his will on us and nit pick and not come to us as neighbors. He put that note in our mailbox AFTER he made the complaint to make it look like he was trying to meet us half way.
I'm angry and I want to "get back" at him, but thats childish, but what do you do? How do you just remain apathetic in rebellion? We have an open investigation that may result in a hearing where we have to plead our case to the County Development Board.

Has anyone else dealt with neighbors that were difficult? We have taken measures to make sure the dogs are never on the back half of the property, but we didn't do it because of the threat of government, we did it to make the situation go away. Our livestock is on the back half, and we want the dogs patrolling to keep away anything that gets through the hotwire.

Frustrated. Any advice on this situation would be much appreciated. We're not jerks, we're happy to work with our neighbors, but how do you do that when your neighbor just complains to multiple agencies instead of coming to you? We plan to live here for at least a couple decades, so I would rather we have good relationships with people around us.

Morning Sunshine:
thinking about this.  I don't have anything yet.  :-\

jerseyboy:
The first thing that comes to mind is to collect evidence of your compliance with the rules. Get a surveillance camera that also collects audio and also keep a book about when the coyotes howl. Be prepared to go into court with evidence that he is lying.

Also, post the exact ordinance that he thinks you are violating. I once lived in a place that any continuous barking over 5 minutes was a reason for the government to take your animals. Once I found that out we left and are never going back.

What is your property zoned? In New Jersey, if you are zoned in a way that let's you keep animals then there are specific laws (right to farm) that say animal noises have to be accepted by your neighbors. However, you must be on 5 acres or more for that to kick in.

So, post the law here that he says you are violating, post your zoning, and make sure that the law applies to your zone (i.e. that your right to farm laws do not trump the other ordinance).  And start collecting data on your compliance. If he is the only one with data to present in court he will win.

Jerseyboy

surfivor:

--- Quote ---county regulations state that a fence cannot impede the free flow of water, and that sticks building up look bad
--- End quote ---

 Is there a stream, seasonal stream or are we talking about little puddles or something ? I don't know anything about this sort of thing or what is going on. He said sticks are piling up because water flowed there. Some laws are obviously ambiguous .. I can't really decipher if your neighbor is actually concerned about something or if he just wants to be difficult ..

 The other thing is the law says a fence can't block flowing water .. presumably that may mean they don't want you creating your own little pond or diverting the flow of a stream say hundreds of yards off it's normal course or something by building a fence. But your neighbor says "sticks are piling up that look bad". How big a pile of sticks ? Again, it's not clear if there is any real water flow or if a few sticks here and there get washed around during heavy rains which if that seems to be the case would sound sort of dumb

 how far from his property is the place where he pulled up the fence ? Is it visible from his side or his house ? How long a section of fence was pulled up by him ?

 Some people might say that if he had a problem with your fence he should have come to you to discuss it rather than take that sort of action by himself

 If you are sure your dogs are not out at night and can't be heard, is it possible that you are just being blamed for random noises in the neighborhood ? Some dogs are barking so he thinks or claims it's your dogs but maybe it's not. How does animal control know it's your dogs ? maybe they have no idea and are just responding to complaints ? Is it possible it's some kind of tactic to throw you off or make it so that you get on the wrong side of the animal control people and govt since you are new to the area ? That way the claims about the water flow get mixed in with all that ..



fritz_monroe:

--- Quote from: Greyghost on December 20, 2016, 11:39:48 PM ---All we told him was, we just want to be left alone, that's why we moved out here. 

--- End quote ---
Could just be the wording of the post, but he may have taken this negatively.  Maybe he decided that he couldn't work with you, so he'd go the way of the county.

What I'd do is go over and talk with him.  I'd say something along the lines of I think that we may have gotten off on the wrong foot and that you want to make sure that you are good neighbors.  That you want to find out exactly what's happening and what you can do to fix it.  That puts you as the people looking to come up with a solution.  If it ever went to court, you can point out in your own notebook that on that day you approached him to find out how to solve the issue and what you came up with.

I also agree that you need to keep your own evidence notebook.

As for wanting to be left alone, I fully understand that.  My wife and I want to be left alone for the most part.  However, you will always have neighbors that you have to deal with.

When you get the chance, please stop over at the Intro Thread and introduce yourself.

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