Legal/Ethical Dilemma?

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Three years ago, my neighbors were storing a canoe up against the chain link fence that separates our backyards. It was an eyesore. My opinion is that I have no right complaining to my neighbors about what they do on their own property, so I took a pro-active approach instead. I planted some Silver Lace vines on the chain link fence. This worked very well, and by the end of summer it hid the canoe, and it looked really nice.
The following year, they got rid of the canoe and planted a flower garden in its place. Even though I no longer needed the vines, they looked so beautiful that I kept them.
Now, three years later, they are a magnificent backdrop to the rest of my flower garden. It's a backdrop to their flower garden too, and they didn't even have to pay for it.
During teh Christmas holidays, I invited these neighbors over for a holiday drink, and James said "Michelle, you're going to have to do something about those vines." When I asked him what he meant, he said that the vines were growing into their yard and are strangling their plants.
I told him that it's a vine, and all vines need trimming occasionally. I told him I trim my side of the vine every two or three weeks in the summer, and it only takes about five minutes each time. I said that's a small price to pay for having such a beautiful plant that is covering what was an ugly chain link fence.
He told me that he and his wife shouldn't have to trim it at all, because it was my vine. He said if I were willing to trim it on their side of the fence from now on, they wouldn't have a problem with it, but if I don't do this, I'd have to "do something about my vines". He of course means I should kill the plants to make him happy.
I changed the topic and wasn't the same for the rest of the evening. I was insulted that they would come into my home, drink my wine, and use it as an opportunity to criticize me. Plus, it's winter! Why is he bringing that up in the middle of winter?
I have already decided that I will trim the vines on their side of the fence. But now I'm wondering who is right, and who is wrong, in this situation? Am I right to think my neighbors are cranky? Does the law obligate me to trim vines that enter my neighbors yard? Should they accept the minor chore of vine trimming in return for having such a beautiful backdrop (their words) to their garden?
TIA! Michelle
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Michelle C wrote:

Your neighbor is an ass, and you can't possibly win this.
If you trim the vines on their side, they will complain you didn't do it good enough or you stepped on some of their plants or something. They will also expect you to keep them trimmed, and to do a better job next time.
If you do nothing, they will probably spray the vines on their side with weed killer in an attempt to destroy them on both sides of the fence.
Best regards, Bob
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Thanks for your reply, Bob.
I intend to trim the vine as short as possible on their side, so as to require less trimming, and less bitching from them. It will also deprive them of the beauty of the plant.
If they still complain, I'll remove it and put up a privacy fence.
- Michelle
PS These same neighbors complain that my oak trees drop leaves into their yard each fall. I don't think they are reasonable people.

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Michelle C wrote:

And yet you invite them over for a drink?
The only way to deal with unreasonable people is to avoid them. That would preclude actually inviting them over, and giving them wine.
On the other hand, it really could be that they have different expectations about the vine. Perhaps they haven't trimmed it because they're afraid you're an unreasonable person who'll freak-out because they're chopping away at your vine. Perhaps where they grew-up, people trimmed plants that went into other people's yards. Maybe they expect that reasonable people clean-up leaves from their trees that fall on their neighbor's lawn.
I have a neighbor who doesn't have a tree in his front yard. I have a huge tree that even extends over part of his lawn. When I vac up the leaves on my yard, I continue past the lot line, and get the heavy leaf fall. I don't go and grab every leaf that's blown across his lawn, but once I'm done, he really doesn't have to rake. If the tables were turned, I probably wouldn't complain about raking, but I'd notice the irony of needing to rake when I don't even have a tree.
So maybe they just didn't want to trim your vine. And it's really not so far out there to expect that you would trim your vine -- even the part going over the lot line. Perhaps your reaction caught them off guard, and it's not that they would mind doing it now that they know they're allowed to. It may just be that they were surprised that you *expected* them to trim *your* vine.
Maybe they are unreasonable people. But there's not enough information to tell. They could be reasonable people with different expectations and customs than you.
--
Warren H.

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"> And yet you invite them over for a drink?
Yes, in the spirit of Christmas and in the hopes that we could get along. My mistake. Sorry.

That's ridiculous.

Add that is beyond ridiculous.
Hey - you don't live next door to me, do you?
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Michelle C wrote:

Why? Because *you* know you're not an unreasonable person? Based on the way you've dismissed what I've said as rediculous, I'm already getting the impression that you're an unreasonable person who isn't willing to accept that differnt people have different perspectives. If that's how you treat them, I wouldn't be surprised to hear from them that you're an unreasonable neighbor.
The dynamics of how the neighborhood I grew up in and where I live now are completely different. Neighbors expect different things from each other 40 years and 2000 miles away. There isn't just one right way of viewing a situation like this. But maybe you think that's ridiculous, too.
--
Warren H.

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It's "rediculous" (sic) because you're making judgements about me and you don't even know me.
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But you invited "ethical" comments, and asked us to judge your neighbours reactions and intentions, even though we don't know them. If everyone shared your personal opinions there would be no "dilemma" in the first place!
Janet
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Yes, Janet, I asked for opinions. I did not however ask for people who know nothing about me to rudely criticize me for being an "unreasonable person".
Thanks anyway, and have a terrific day

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Michelle C wrote:

Yet you're willing to call other people ridiculous even though you know nothing about them.
I think we're finding out far more about who you really are than you think. For example you've made it quite clear that you only want people to agree with your perspective. You won't even entertain viewpoints different than your own, and quickly dismiss them. That much is quite clear. From everything you've said in this thread so far, I'm sure your neighbors have been walking on eggshells hoping not to be called unreasonable or ridiculous simply for having a valid, but different viewpoint than you.
Of course you could just present yourself poorly, and you really are a reasonable person who is willing to view things from other perspectives. But that's not who we're seeing.
Or is that an opinion you don't want to entertain as well?
--
Warren H.

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Thats' not true, Warren. I did not call you ridiculous. . It was your negative personal **comments** about me that I termed ridiculous.

That is not true either. I welcome opinions that are presented politely. I have done so many times in this thread. But when someone attackes me personally, I reserve the right to speak out.

Wrong again. Many people have said that I should remove the plants, but I did not dismiss either them or their views.

Wrong again. (You're on a roll.) Even when their canoe was leaned against my fence, I did not complain. My opinion is that they can do whatever they wish on their property.

That may be what you are seeing, but that's not the response I got from most people. I have already agreed to trim the vines, for example - a point that you continually overlook. And I have not objected to most of the people who said I should remove the plants. But then, those are the people who said it politely - without the personal attacks.
Nice chatting with you. Have a nice day!
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Super Salty Seer says: Optimistic idealists like yourself will never get along with short-sighted pragmatists.
Since it has been determined that you are the owner of the fence, it is your prerogative or not to tell the other party to bugger off. However, they do have right to trim encroaching parts of the vine in a manner that does not result in the death of your vine and if they can show that your vine is damaging their property (and not just being a nuisance) they may be able to take action against you. Since you have indicated that you are not adverse to trimming both sides, you may choose that solution until it becomes odious for whatever reason at which time you will enact the contigency plan that you had prepared in the interim.
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be
not
Sorry, but I have to side with Michelle C. From the moment the neighbors mentioned the vine, it was apparent they were petty individuals. To bitch about a 5 minute job every 2 - 3 weeks while much more time is spent tending their own garden is petty and doesn't even deserve a serious discussion IMO. If Michelle does not agree to trim their side of the fence, I expect some repercussion from the petty ones like butchering the entire vine as trimming or killing it as some kind of challenge. Such behavior is childish. So rip out the fence Michelle and put up a board one. And make it high enough the bastards can't see what you are doing. And if you invite them over in the spirit of the holidays again, make sure they get the rot gut liquor.
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I don't think it should be a court case, however, the subject is "Legal/Ethical Dilemma", not "how do I handle my unseemly neighbor". However, if it comes that then it pays to be on the law's side. To answer your question, if I like the vine, then I don't really care what the neighbors think as long as I am not being unreasonable. Unreasonable being if I planted an invasive vine that crawls all over the place, destroys their property or eats their children or anything that otherwise does not CMA legally.

Fortunately I don't think Michelle is the type to be so petulant as to bother to paint the neighbor's side of a new fence a fluorescent color. At any rate, if she wanted to be spiteful, then why would choose your first option and remove the vine? It's her fence. her vine. If the neighbors have a problem with it, then it's their problem. If they decide to spitefully ripe out the vine, then Michelle can take legal action or she can move on. Of course if she wanted to waste her time with little Mickey Mouse games, she could do that too. To be blunt, if you think that painting a fence one color in order to induce a neighbor to paint it a different color is anything other than stupid, then you need to grow up.
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Hi Salty,
I have a funny story about fence-paining that happened to a friend of mine. It was a feuding-neighbor scenario, and my friend put up a six-foot privacy fence as a solution. But rather than paint the neighbor's side a flourescent color, my friend chose to paint it the same color as his side. (His goal was not to do his neighbor a favor, but to properly seal the fence to increase its longevity).
The neighbor was on vacation on painting day, and so my friend and his helpers thought they would have a little fun as they painted. They painted a bunch of expletives on the neighbor's side first - before painting it in earnest. The only problem was that when the painting was done, the expletives showed through. They had to give the fence three additional coats to cover up all the swear words before the neighbor returned. It was a lot of extra work, but they learned from it. They still laugh about it to this day.
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Sorry you don't get it. These ARE Mickey Mouse games. They were started by her neighbor by complaining about a silly vine that occasionaly chokes a flower or two. Michelle took the bait and is pondering trimming his side of the fence. This legal/ethical dilemma is so miniscule it is laughable. It is merely a neighborhood disagreement which can be resolved . I see no reason to make federal case out of it. Michelle has many options here. From removing the vine and awarding the victory to her neighbor to not removing the vine and say nothing when he pulls another stunt to aggravate her. That seems to be what this is all about. It has nothing to do with the vine in his mind. It has to do with winning something.
Life is too short to waste over minutia like this. If I were her, I'd forget the entire ethics and legalities over this and get on with life. So her neighbor may do something to piss her off over the vine. So bloody what? Move on, forget the creep and don't invite Ma and Pa Kettle over for drinks any more.
Some neighbors go out of their way to tick off other neighbors. It gets them off to compensate for their failures.
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Illegal here (Rochester NY), and probably most other places, too. If the building inspector stopped by to see if the structure matched the permit, she'd be forced to take down the fence, or paint it herself.
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On 1/12/05 7:00 AM, in article Sj8Fd.3568$ snipped-for-privacy@news01.roc.ny, "Doug

You're in Rah-cha-cha - we have a good friend leaving there to move to NH. Why not you too! Cheryl
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The moment my son goes to college, I'm free to move. Until then.....yawn.....
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On 1/12/05 10:38 PM, in article K2mFd.3697$ snipped-for-privacy@news01.roc.ny, "Doug

I liked Rochester - nice city! But better gardening here!
Cheryl
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